Scientia Marina, Vol 73, No 2 (2009)

The effect of salinity on larval development of Uca tangeri (Eydoux, 1835) (Brachyura: Ocypodidae) and new findings of the zoeal morphology

Eduardo D. Spivak
Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata , Argentina

José A. Cuesta
Instituto de Ciencias Marinas de Andalucía (CSIC), Cadiz , Spain


In order to evaluate their tolerance to low salinities, zoeae of the fiddler crab Uca tangeri from the Rio San Pedro population (southwestern Spain) were reared in the laboratory at 20ºC and at three salinities (16, 24 and 32). The zoeal development was completed at 24 and 32 but the crabs died as zoea I or zoea II, and very rarely as zoea III, at 16; tolerance to low salinities varied among clutches produced by different females. The duration of the first zoeal stage and of the complete zoeal development was shorter at 32. Our observations showed that the zoeae of U. tangeri could not tolerate retention in the mesohaline water of estuaries, and that export to oceanic waters would be optimal for their successful development. Survival at 24 suggests that larvae could also develop in polyhaline conditions if they were retained in the ocean-estuary interface. The presence of an additional zoeal stage (zoea VI) was observed in some individuals and associated with unfavourable combinations of temperature and salinity. In addition, some previously omitted aspects of zoeal morphology were re-described and illustrated, providing new evidence which supports the basal position of this species in a proto-Atlantic origin of the genus Uca. It is proposed that the differences between Uca tangeri and the rest of the Uca species should be highlighted, and that it should be placed in its own genus as Afruca tangeri.


larval development; salinity; mortality; duration of development; Ocypodidae; Uca; fiddler crab; zoeal morphology

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