Estimation of density and abundance of the blue land crab, Cardisoma guanhumi Latreille, 1828, in the Imburana peninsula, northern Brazil

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The blue land crab (Cardisoma guanhumi Latreille, 1828) supports extensive small-scale artisanal fisheries in the tropical western Atlantic, including Brazil. Land surveys were conducted on a peninsula in a northeastern Brazilian estuary in 2014-2015 in order to evaluate density and abundance. The study area (26 700 m2) was dividied into three subareas with a total of 30 sampling points. In all, 529 burrows were registered of which 71.7% were open (indicating activity), 22.1% were closed (indicating moulting) and 6.2% were empty (fishermen catch). Burrow diameter ranged from 12 to 174 mm (mean: 62.05 ± 3.01 mm; 95% confidence interval). The highly significant correlation between mean burrow diameter and mean carapace length (n = 7; R2 = 0.8968, p<0.001) shows that one is a good proxy for the other. The estimated total population size in the study area was 10 362 individuals, with a mean density of 0.39 individuals/m2 (stock of 7347 kg).


International Journal of Crustacean Research



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  • Map of the continental shelf of Brazil and aerial view of the peninsula of Imburana, bound to the east by the Piranhas River and to the west by large salt ponds. The study area is covered by dense mangrove forest. The white dots indicate the 30 sampling locations (rectangles). The peninsula was divided into 3 subareas: ‘North’ (rectangles 1-15), ‘Central’ (rectangles 16-21), and ‘South’ (rectangles 22-30). The areas covered with dense mangrove forest are inhabited by blue land crabs (Cardisoma guanhumi Latreille, 1828). Legends: Rectangle 1: 5°08′07.0″S 36°43′53.2″W and Rectangle 15: 5°08′04.2″S 36°43′55.3″W; Rectangle 16: 5°08′02.9″S 36°43′56.3″W and Rectangle 21: 5°08′01.8″S 36°43′56.8″W; Rectangle 22: 5°08′00.1″S 36°43′56.7″W and Rectangle 30: 5°07′57.0″S 36°43′55.0″W.

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  • Sampling unit design (rectangle measuring 2 m2) used to calculate the density of burrows of Cardisoma guanhumi Latreille, 1828 in its natural habitat. The rectangles were demarcated with synthetic fiber rope.

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  • The relative frequency of burrow diameter (BD) and carapace length (CL) of blue land crabs (Cardisoma guanhumi Latreille, 1828) sampled on the peninsula of Imburana in the period April 2014 to July 2015.

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  • Comparison of the relative frequency of carapace length (CL) of the blue land crab (Cardisoma guanhumi Latreille, 1828) in Rio Grande do Norte (modified from Silva et al., 2014) and the peninsula of Imburana (present study).

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  • Measurement of the entrance of open (active) and closed (inactive) blue land crab burrows (Cardisoma guanhumi Latreille, 1828) using a pair of callipers. The red circle shows the width of the closed burrow.

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  • Monthly average diameter of blue land crab burrows (Cardisoma guanhumi Latreille, 1828) on the peninsula of Imburana, April 2014 to July 2015.

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  • Average density (black point) and 95% confidence limits (vertical line) per month of blue land crabs (Cardisoma guanhumi Latreille, 1828) on the peninsula of Imburana, April 2014 to July 2015. The black dotted line represents the trend in the density.

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  • Anomaly of rainfall (mm) and estimated density (number of crabs/m2) of open blue land crab burrows (Cardisoma guanhumi Latreille, 1828) on the peninsula of Imburana, April 2014 to July 2015.

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  • Anomaly of rainfall (mm) and estimated density (number of crabs/m2) of closed blue land crab burrows (Cardisoma guanhumi Latreille, 1828) on the peninsula of Imburana, April 2014 to July 2015.

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  • Schematic representation of the study area and subareas on the peninsula of Imburana, showing the position of the 30 rectangles and the area (m2) covered by each subarea (South, Central, and North).

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