Scientia Marina, Vol 68, No 1 (2004)

Biomass and elemental composition of eggs and larvae of a mangrove crab, Sesarma rectum Randall (Decapoda: Sesarmidae) and comparison to a related species with abbreviated larval development

Klaus Anger
Biologische Anstalt Helgoland, Stiftung Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Germany

Gloria S. Moreira
Universidade de São Paulo, Instituto de Biociências, Brazil


We measured biomass and elemental composition (dry mass, W; carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, CHN) in eggs and larvae of a mangrove crab, Sesarma rectum. The results are compared with previously published data from a closely related species with abbreviated development (S. curacaoense). Egg size of S. rectum increased during embryogenesis, while egg biomass, C content (%W), and the C:N ratio decreased. Initial biomass of eggs and larvae in S. rectum was about half of that in S. curacaoense, also showing lower percentage values of C and H and a lower C:N ratio (indicating a lower lipid content). After hatching, however, the zoeae of S. rectum showed higher growth rates than those of S. curacaoense (presumably due to partial utilisation of internal energy reserves in the latter) and a longer period of development to the megalopa (passing though three vs. only two zoeal stages); as a consequence of these differential growth patterns, S. rectum compensated for the initially lower biomass. Interspecific comparison among neotropical Sesarmidae suggests an intermediate degree of dependence on planktonic food sources in S. rectum, which is lower than in estuarine species with small eggs and an extended mode of development (e.g. Armases angustipes), but higher than in relatives with larger egg biomass and an abbreviated development (e.g. A. miersii, S. curacaoense, S. fossarum, Metopaulias depressus). This should allow S. rectum larvae to develop partially within the parental mangrove system, but requiring a limited export towards coastal marine waters with planktonic food sources.


decapod crustacean; larvae; abbreviated development; growth; carbon; nitrogen

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Copyright (c) 2004 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

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