Studies on the ecology and behaviour of the ghost crab, Ocypode cursor (L.) in northern Cyprus
Keywords:Crustacea, Decapoda, Ocypode cursor, ecology, behaviour, Cyprus
Aspects of the ecology and behaviour of Ocypode cursor were studied on the beaches of Northern Cyprus. The crabs were widely distributed around the north coast of the island, occurring on 68 of the 77 sandy beaches investigated. At the main study beach at Alagadi, crabs occupied a band approximately 12 m wide; starting approximately 3 m horizontally from the edge of the sea (tidal fluctuation was minimal). Most small burrows occurred near to the sea, with the burrows of larger crabs predominating higher up the beach. Burrow numbers varied during the summer which was mainly attributable to variations in the numbers of burrows of juveniles. The sex ratio of emergent crabs also varied during the summer, possibly reflecting burrow oriented behaviour of reproductive females. There were strong correlations between burrow diameters and carapace lengths of the occupant crabs. There was a positive correlation between the presence of crab burrows and the number of people using sections of beach. The crabs were principally nocturnal, benefitting from food discarded by tourists. They also scavenged animal carcasses and were active predators of turtle eggs and hatchlings. Crab burrows usually had a single opening oriented towards the sea and those cast were L- or J-shaped. Burrows did not penetrate to the water table. The water content of the sand at the bottom of burrows was around 14 % by weight. Their burrows in the well-sorted sand provided the crabs with a thermally stable environment.
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