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Overview

Brief Summary

Aratus pisonii, commonly known as the Mangrove Tree Crab, is a member of the Grapsidae family (monotypic genus) and is found in the edges of mangrove forests from eastern Florida to northern Brazil on the Atlantic coast and from Nicaragua to Perú on the Pacific coast (Rathbun 1918, Chace and Hobbs 1969 [as cited in Díaz and Conde 1989]). The adults are arboreal and live in the supralittoral zone of the roots, branches, and canopy of mangroves, primarily Rhizophora mangle and Avicennia germinans (Díaz and Conde 1989, Simberloff 1983). They return to the water to drink, to breed, and as a potential escape from predators (Díaz and Conde 1989). The males of this species have a larger carapace width than the females, possibly due to a larger allocation of energy going towards reproduction in the females. Females also tend to have a longer time between molts, a trend that is especially notable in ovigerous females (Díaz and Conde 1989). Multiple studies have found a higher abundance of females compared to males (Díaz and Conde 1989, Conde et. al. 2000). Their diet is primarily composed of mangrove leaves although they have been known to eat filamentous algae, large insects and fish as well (Simberloff 1983, Díaz and Conde 1989). Predation by birds and other crabs such as Goniopsis cruentata have been documented but are not considered to have a large effect on A. pisonii mortality. Occasionally, the crabs will jump into the water in order to escape a predator, often leading to predation by fish (Díaz and Conde 1989). Females lay eggs throughout the year with the majority of females in their last trimester occurring in the rainy season. There is a positive correlation between female carapace width and number of eggs produced with the mean number of eggs per female equaling 11,577 (Díaz and Conde 1989). In Jamaica, the breeding patterns seem to be correlated with lunar cycles. This is thought to be because a high tide will prevent larval stranding (Warner 1967 as cited in Díaz and Conde 1989). In the edges of mangrove forests, larval stranding is not an issue due to the consistently high water level. For this reason, lunar cycles do not seem to have an effect on breeding patterns in these habitats. For individuals of A. pisonii that inhabit the interior of mangrove forests, there is a possible migration to the forest edge for the purpose of breeding, although this has not been verified. Overall, A. pisonii is a sedentary species and has not been shown to migrate (Díaz and Conde 1989). The larva of A. pisonii undergoes 5 aquatic stages: 4 zoeal stages and one megalopal stage, although one study found cases where one or even two of the zoael stages were suppressed (Cuesta et al. 2006, Díaz and Bevilacqua 1987). Each zoeal stage lasts between 4-6 days and the megalopal stage duration has not been determined (Cuesta et. al. 2006).

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Comprehensive Description

The mangrove tree crab, Aratus pisonii, is one of several species of crabs belonging to the Family Sesarmidae. The carapace is mottled brown to olive-green (Kaplan 1988) and is widest at the front, tapering posteriorly (Abele 1986). Eyes are widespread at the front corners of the carapace. Legs are brown to mottled, and the claws bear tufts of black hair. Sharp tips at the end of the legs allow A. pisonii to climb mangrove trees and other vertical surfaces (Kaplan 1988).
  • Abele, LG & W Kim. 1986. An illustrated guide to the marine decapod crustaceans of Florida, Part 2. Florida State Univ. Tallahassee, FL, USA. 760 pp.
  • Anger, K. 2001. The biology of decapod crustacean larvae. Crustacean Issues. 14: 13-36.
  • Beever, JW, Simberloff, D & LL King. 1979. Herbivory and predation by the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii. Oecologia. 43: 317-328.
  • Conde, JE & H Díaz. 1992. Variations in intraspecific relative size at the onset of maturity (RSOM) in Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsidae). Crustaceana. 62: 214-216.
  • Conde, JE & H Díaz. 1989. The mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii in a tropical estuarine coastal lagoon. Estuar. Coast. Shelf Sci. 28: 639-650.
  • Conde, JE, Tognella, MMP, Paes, ET, Soares, MLG, Louro, IA & Y Schaeffer-Novelli. 2000. Population and life history features of the crab Aratus pisonii (Decapoda: Grapsidae) in a subtropical estuary. Interciencia. 25: 151-158.
  • Cuesta, JA, García-Guerrero, MU, Rodríguez, A & ME Hendrickx. 2006. Larval morphology of the sesarmid crab, Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsoidea) from laboratory-reared material. Crustaceana. 79: 175-196.
  • de Lacerda, LD. 1981. Mangrove wood pulp, an alternative food source for the tree-crab Aratus pisonii. Biotropica. 13: 317.
  • Díaz, H & M Bevilacqua. 1986. Larval development of Aratus pisonii (Milne Edwards) (Brachyura, Grapsidae) from marine and estuarine environments reared under different salinity conditions. J. Coastal Res. 2: 43-49.
  • Díaz, H & M Bevilacqua. 1987. Early developmental sequences of Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards) (Brachyura, Grapsidae) under laboratory conditions. J. Coastal Res. 3: 63-70.
  • Díaz, H & JE Conde. 1989. Population dynamics and life history of the mangrove crab Aratus pisonii (Brachyura, Grapsidae) in a marine environment. Bull. Mar. Sci. 45: 148-163.
  • Erickson, AA, Saltis, M, Bell, SS & CJ Dawes. 2003. Herbivore feeding as measured by leaf damage and stomatal ingestion: a mangrove crab example. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 289: 123-138.
  • Feller, IC. 1995. Effects of nutrient enrichment on growth and herbivory of dwarf red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle). Ecol. Monogr. 65: 477-505.
  • Feller, IC & A Chamberlain. 2007. Herbivory responses to nutrient enrichment and landscape heterogeneity in a mangrove ecosystem. Oecologia. 153: 607-616.
  • Kaplan, EH. 1988. Southeastern and Caribbean seashores: Cape Hatteras to the Gulf coast, Florida, and the Caribbean. Houghton Mifflin. New York, NY, USA. 425 pp.
  • Rader, R & S Reed. 2005. A method of tagging Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsidae) crabs for population and behavioural studies. Crustaceana. 78: 361-365.
  • Ruppert, EE, Fox, RS & RD Barnes. 2004. Invertebrate zoology: A functional evolutionary approach. Brooks/Cole. Belmont, CA, USA. 963 pp.
  • Schwamborn, R, Ekau, W, Silva, AP, Schwamborn, SHL, Silva, TA, Neumann-Leitão, S & U Saint-Paul. 2006. Ingestion of large centric diatoms, mangrove detritus, and zooplankton by zoeae of Aratus pisonii (Crustacea: Brachyura: Grapsidae). Hydrobiologia. 560: 1-13.
  • Schwamborn, R, Ekau, W, Pinto, AS, Silva, TA & U Saint-Paul. 1999. The contribution of estuarine decapod larvae to marine macrozooplankton communities in northeast Brazil. Archive Fish. Mar. Res. 47: 167-182.
  • Schwamborn, R & U Saint-Paul. 1996. Mangroves - forgotten forests? Nat. Restor. Develop. 43/44: 13-36.
  • Schwamborn, R, Voss, M, Ekau, W & U Saint-Paul. 2002. How important are mangroves as carbon sources for decapod crustacean larvae in a tropical estuary? Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 229: 195-205.
  • Warner, GF. 1967. The life history of the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii. J. Zool. Lond. 153: 321-335.
  • Warner, GF. 1970. Behavior of two species of grapsid crabs during interspecific encounters. Behavior. 36: 9-19.
  • Warner, GF. 1977. The biology of crabs. Van Nostrand Reinhold. New York, NY, USA. 202 pp.
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Source: Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory

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Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)) Occurs from south Florida, USA, south through the Caribbean (principally the Antilles) to Brazil on the Atlantic coast, and from Nicaragua to Peru on the eastern Pacific coast.

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The range of A. pisonii extends from eastern Florida to northern Brazil, throughout the Caribbean, and on Pacific coasts from Nicaragua to Peru (Rathbun 1918, Chace & Hobbs 1969). The mangrove tree crab migrates vertically, usually inhabiting tree canopies during high tide and venturing down to exposed sediments during low tide.Although the crabs are most commonly associated with the red mangrove, Rhizophora mangle, populations also reside among the branches of the black mangrove, Avicennia germinans; the mangrove, Avicennia schaueriana; the white mangrove, Laguncularia racemosa and the tea mangrove, Pelliceria rhizophorae (Conde et al. 2000). The mangrove tree crab is a common inhabitant of red mangrove, R. mangle, forests throughout the lagoon (Rader & Reed 2005), although crabs can also be found in and around the white mangrove, L. racemosa and the black mangrove, A. germinans.
  • Abele, LG & W Kim. 1986. An illustrated guide to the marine decapod crustaceans of Florida, Part 2. Florida State Univ. Tallahassee, FL, USA. 760 pp.
  • Anger, K. 2001. The biology of decapod crustacean larvae. Crustacean Issues. 14: 13-36.
  • Beever, JW, Simberloff, D & LL King. 1979. Herbivory and predation by the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii. Oecologia. 43: 317-328.
  • Conde, JE & H Díaz. 1992. Variations in intraspecific relative size at the onset of maturity (RSOM) in Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsidae). Crustaceana. 62: 214-216.
  • Conde, JE & H Díaz. 1989. The mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii in a tropical estuarine coastal lagoon. Estuar. Coast. Shelf Sci. 28: 639-650.
  • Conde, JE, Tognella, MMP, Paes, ET, Soares, MLG, Louro, IA & Y Schaeffer-Novelli. 2000. Population and life history features of the crab Aratus pisonii (Decapoda: Grapsidae) in a subtropical estuary. Interciencia. 25: 151-158.
  • Cuesta, JA, García-Guerrero, MU, Rodríguez, A & ME Hendrickx. 2006. Larval morphology of the sesarmid crab, Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsoidea) from laboratory-reared material. Crustaceana. 79: 175-196.
  • de Lacerda, LD. 1981. Mangrove wood pulp, an alternative food source for the tree-crab Aratus pisonii. Biotropica. 13: 317.
  • Díaz, H & M Bevilacqua. 1986. Larval development of Aratus pisonii (Milne Edwards) (Brachyura, Grapsidae) from marine and estuarine environments reared under different salinity conditions. J. Coastal Res. 2: 43-49.
  • Díaz, H & M Bevilacqua. 1987. Early developmental sequences of Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards) (Brachyura, Grapsidae) under laboratory conditions. J. Coastal Res. 3: 63-70.
  • Díaz, H & JE Conde. 1989. Population dynamics and life history of the mangrove crab Aratus pisonii (Brachyura, Grapsidae) in a marine environment. Bull. Mar. Sci. 45: 148-163.
  • Erickson, AA, Saltis, M, Bell, SS & CJ Dawes. 2003. Herbivore feeding as measured by leaf damage and stomatal ingestion: a mangrove crab example. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 289: 123-138.
  • Feller, IC. 1995. Effects of nutrient enrichment on growth and herbivory of dwarf red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle). Ecol. Monogr. 65: 477-505.
  • Feller, IC & A Chamberlain. 2007. Herbivory responses to nutrient enrichment and landscape heterogeneity in a mangrove ecosystem. Oecologia. 153: 607-616.
  • Kaplan, EH. 1988. Southeastern and Caribbean seashores: Cape Hatteras to the Gulf coast, Florida, and the Caribbean. Houghton Mifflin. New York, NY, USA. 425 pp.
  • Rader, R & S Reed. 2005. A method of tagging Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsidae) crabs for population and behavioural studies. Crustaceana. 78: 361-365.
  • Ruppert, EE, Fox, RS & RD Barnes. 2004. Invertebrate zoology: A functional evolutionary approach. Brooks/Cole. Belmont, CA, USA. 963 pp.
  • Schwamborn, R, Ekau, W, Silva, AP, Schwamborn, SHL, Silva, TA, Neumann-Leitão, S & U Saint-Paul. 2006. Ingestion of large centric diatoms, mangrove detritus, and zooplankton by zoeae of Aratus pisonii (Crustacea: Brachyura: Grapsidae). Hydrobiologia. 560: 1-13.
  • Schwamborn, R, Ekau, W, Pinto, AS, Silva, TA & U Saint-Paul. 1999. The contribution of estuarine decapod larvae to marine macrozooplankton communities in northeast Brazil. Archive Fish. Mar. Res. 47: 167-182.
  • Schwamborn, R & U Saint-Paul. 1996. Mangroves - forgotten forests? Nat. Restor. Develop. 43/44: 13-36.
  • Schwamborn, R, Voss, M, Ekau, W & U Saint-Paul. 2002. How important are mangroves as carbon sources for decapod crustacean larvae in a tropical estuary? Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 229: 195-205.
  • Warner, GF. 1967. The life history of the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii. J. Zool. Lond. 153: 321-335.
  • Warner, GF. 1970. Behavior of two species of grapsid crabs during interspecific encounters. Behavior. 36: 9-19.
  • Warner, GF. 1977. The biology of crabs. Van Nostrand Reinhold. New York, NY, USA. 202 pp.
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Source: Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory

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Physical Description

Size

The maximum carapace width for A. pisonii is approximately 2.7 cm (Díaz & Conde 1989). However, average size varies among the sexes, measuring 2.0 cm and 1.8 cm for males and females, respectively (Díaz & Conde 1989). The size at the onset of maturity (SOM), when individuals are sexually reproductive, occurs at approximately 0.9 to 1.6 cm, depending on salinity (Conde & Díaz 1992). For more information, see "Salinity" below. Size also appears to vary with habitat type, with larger crabs often found in more mature mangrove forests and smaller individuals among stunted mangroves (Conde & Díaz 2000). Although lifespan and growth is highly variable, depending on food availability and environmental conditions, Warner (1967) reported that male crabs reach full size after one to five years.
  • Abele, LG & W Kim. 1986. An illustrated guide to the marine decapod crustaceans of Florida, Part 2. Florida State Univ. Tallahassee, FL, USA. 760 pp.
  • Anger, K. 2001. The biology of decapod crustacean larvae. Crustacean Issues. 14: 13-36.
  • Beever, JW, Simberloff, D & LL King. 1979. Herbivory and predation by the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii. Oecologia. 43: 317-328.
  • Conde, JE & H Díaz. 1992. Variations in intraspecific relative size at the onset of maturity (RSOM) in Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsidae). Crustaceana. 62: 214-216.
  • Conde, JE & H Díaz. 1989. The mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii in a tropical estuarine coastal lagoon. Estuar. Coast. Shelf Sci. 28: 639-650.
  • Conde, JE, Tognella, MMP, Paes, ET, Soares, MLG, Louro, IA & Y Schaeffer-Novelli. 2000. Population and life history features of the crab Aratus pisonii (Decapoda: Grapsidae) in a subtropical estuary. Interciencia. 25: 151-158.
  • Cuesta, JA, García-Guerrero, MU, Rodríguez, A & ME Hendrickx. 2006. Larval morphology of the sesarmid crab, Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsoidea) from laboratory-reared material. Crustaceana. 79: 175-196.
  • de Lacerda, LD. 1981. Mangrove wood pulp, an alternative food source for the tree-crab Aratus pisonii. Biotropica. 13: 317.
  • Díaz, H & M Bevilacqua. 1986. Larval development of Aratus pisonii (Milne Edwards) (Brachyura, Grapsidae) from marine and estuarine environments reared under different salinity conditions. J. Coastal Res. 2: 43-49.
  • Díaz, H & M Bevilacqua. 1987. Early developmental sequences of Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards) (Brachyura, Grapsidae) under laboratory conditions. J. Coastal Res. 3: 63-70.
  • Díaz, H & JE Conde. 1989. Population dynamics and life history of the mangrove crab Aratus pisonii (Brachyura, Grapsidae) in a marine environment. Bull. Mar. Sci. 45: 148-163.
  • Erickson, AA, Saltis, M, Bell, SS & CJ Dawes. 2003. Herbivore feeding as measured by leaf damage and stomatal ingestion: a mangrove crab example. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 289: 123-138.
  • Feller, IC. 1995. Effects of nutrient enrichment on growth and herbivory of dwarf red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle). Ecol. Monogr. 65: 477-505.
  • Feller, IC & A Chamberlain. 2007. Herbivory responses to nutrient enrichment and landscape heterogeneity in a mangrove ecosystem. Oecologia. 153: 607-616.
  • Kaplan, EH. 1988. Southeastern and Caribbean seashores: Cape Hatteras to the Gulf coast, Florida, and the Caribbean. Houghton Mifflin. New York, NY, USA. 425 pp.
  • Rader, R & S Reed. 2005. A method of tagging Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsidae) crabs for population and behavioural studies. Crustaceana. 78: 361-365.
  • Ruppert, EE, Fox, RS & RD Barnes. 2004. Invertebrate zoology: A functional evolutionary approach. Brooks/Cole. Belmont, CA, USA. 963 pp.
  • Schwamborn, R, Ekau, W, Silva, AP, Schwamborn, SHL, Silva, TA, Neumann-Leitão, S & U Saint-Paul. 2006. Ingestion of large centric diatoms, mangrove detritus, and zooplankton by zoeae of Aratus pisonii (Crustacea: Brachyura: Grapsidae). Hydrobiologia. 560: 1-13.
  • Schwamborn, R, Ekau, W, Pinto, AS, Silva, TA & U Saint-Paul. 1999. The contribution of estuarine decapod larvae to marine macrozooplankton communities in northeast Brazil. Archive Fish. Mar. Res. 47: 167-182.
  • Schwamborn, R & U Saint-Paul. 1996. Mangroves - forgotten forests? Nat. Restor. Develop. 43/44: 13-36.
  • Schwamborn, R, Voss, M, Ekau, W & U Saint-Paul. 2002. How important are mangroves as carbon sources for decapod crustacean larvae in a tropical estuary? Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 229: 195-205.
  • Warner, GF. 1967. The life history of the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii. J. Zool. Lond. 153: 321-335.
  • Warner, GF. 1970. Behavior of two species of grapsid crabs during interspecific encounters. Behavior. 36: 9-19.
  • Warner, GF. 1977. The biology of crabs. Van Nostrand Reinhold. New York, NY, USA. 202 pp.
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Source: Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory

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Look Alikes

In many locations, the mangrove tree crab shares its habitat with the spotted mangrove, or mangrove root crab, Goniopsis cruentata. However, this species can reach carapace lengths up to 6.3 cm, much larger than A. pisonii (Kaplan, 1988). Coloration also distinguishes the two crabs. The body of G. cruentata is dark brown, with red legs bearing a pattern of yellow spots. The palms are white and claws lack the black hairs characteristic of A. pisonii.II . HABITAT & DISTRIBUTION
  • Abele, LG & W Kim. 1986. An illustrated guide to the marine decapod crustaceans of Florida, Part 2. Florida State Univ. Tallahassee, FL, USA. 760 pp.
  • Anger, K. 2001. The biology of decapod crustacean larvae. Crustacean Issues. 14: 13-36.
  • Beever, JW, Simberloff, D & LL King. 1979. Herbivory and predation by the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii. Oecologia. 43: 317-328.
  • Conde, JE & H Díaz. 1992. Variations in intraspecific relative size at the onset of maturity (RSOM) in Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsidae). Crustaceana. 62: 214-216.
  • Conde, JE & H Díaz. 1989. The mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii in a tropical estuarine coastal lagoon. Estuar. Coast. Shelf Sci. 28: 639-650.
  • Conde, JE, Tognella, MMP, Paes, ET, Soares, MLG, Louro, IA & Y Schaeffer-Novelli. 2000. Population and life history features of the crab Aratus pisonii (Decapoda: Grapsidae) in a subtropical estuary. Interciencia. 25: 151-158.
  • Cuesta, JA, García-Guerrero, MU, Rodríguez, A & ME Hendrickx. 2006. Larval morphology of the sesarmid crab, Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsoidea) from laboratory-reared material. Crustaceana. 79: 175-196.
  • de Lacerda, LD. 1981. Mangrove wood pulp, an alternative food source for the tree-crab Aratus pisonii. Biotropica. 13: 317.
  • Díaz, H & M Bevilacqua. 1986. Larval development of Aratus pisonii (Milne Edwards) (Brachyura, Grapsidae) from marine and estuarine environments reared under different salinity conditions. J. Coastal Res. 2: 43-49.
  • Díaz, H & M Bevilacqua. 1987. Early developmental sequences of Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards) (Brachyura, Grapsidae) under laboratory conditions. J. Coastal Res. 3: 63-70.
  • Díaz, H & JE Conde. 1989. Population dynamics and life history of the mangrove crab Aratus pisonii (Brachyura, Grapsidae) in a marine environment. Bull. Mar. Sci. 45: 148-163.
  • Erickson, AA, Saltis, M, Bell, SS & CJ Dawes. 2003. Herbivore feeding as measured by leaf damage and stomatal ingestion: a mangrove crab example. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 289: 123-138.
  • Feller, IC. 1995. Effects of nutrient enrichment on growth and herbivory of dwarf red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle). Ecol. Monogr. 65: 477-505.
  • Feller, IC & A Chamberlain. 2007. Herbivory responses to nutrient enrichment and landscape heterogeneity in a mangrove ecosystem. Oecologia. 153: 607-616.
  • Kaplan, EH. 1988. Southeastern and Caribbean seashores: Cape Hatteras to the Gulf coast, Florida, and the Caribbean. Houghton Mifflin. New York, NY, USA. 425 pp.
  • Rader, R & S Reed. 2005. A method of tagging Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsidae) crabs for population and behavioural studies. Crustaceana. 78: 361-365.
  • Ruppert, EE, Fox, RS & RD Barnes. 2004. Invertebrate zoology: A functional evolutionary approach. Brooks/Cole. Belmont, CA, USA. 963 pp.
  • Schwamborn, R, Ekau, W, Silva, AP, Schwamborn, SHL, Silva, TA, Neumann-Leitão, S & U Saint-Paul. 2006. Ingestion of large centric diatoms, mangrove detritus, and zooplankton by zoeae of Aratus pisonii (Crustacea: Brachyura: Grapsidae). Hydrobiologia. 560: 1-13.
  • Schwamborn, R, Ekau, W, Pinto, AS, Silva, TA & U Saint-Paul. 1999. The contribution of estuarine decapod larvae to marine macrozooplankton communities in northeast Brazil. Archive Fish. Mar. Res. 47: 167-182.
  • Schwamborn, R & U Saint-Paul. 1996. Mangroves - forgotten forests? Nat. Restor. Develop. 43/44: 13-36.
  • Schwamborn, R, Voss, M, Ekau, W & U Saint-Paul. 2002. How important are mangroves as carbon sources for decapod crustacean larvae in a tropical estuary? Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 229: 195-205.
  • Warner, GF. 1967. The life history of the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii. J. Zool. Lond. 153: 321-335.
  • Warner, GF. 1970. Behavior of two species of grapsid crabs during interspecific encounters. Behavior. 36: 9-19.
  • Warner, GF. 1977. The biology of crabs. Van Nostrand Reinhold. New York, NY, USA. 202 pp.
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Source: Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory

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Ecology

Habitat

Belizean Coast Mangroves Habitat

This species is found in the Belizean coast mangroves ecoregion (part of the larger Mesoamerican Gulf-Caribbean mangroves ecoregion), extending along the Caribbean Coast from Guatemala, and encompassing the mangrove habitat along the shores of the Bahía de Annatique; this ecoregion continues along the Belizean coast up to the border with Mexico. The Belizean coast mangroves ecoregion includes the mainland coastal fringe, but is separate from the distinct ecoregion known as the Belizean reef mangroves which are separated from the mainland. This ecoregion includes the Monterrico Reserve in Guatemala, the estuarine reaches of the Monkey River and the Placencia Peninsula. The ecoregion includes the Burdon Canal Nature Reserve in Belize City, which reach contains mangrove forests and provides habitat for a gamut of avian species and threatened crocodiles.

Pygmy or scrub mangrove forests are found in certain reaches of the Belizean mangroves. In these associations individual plants seldom surpass a height of 150 centimetres, except in circumstances where the mangroves grow on depressions filled with mangrove peat. Many of the shrub-trees are over forty years old. In these pygmy mangrove areas, nutrients appear to be limiting factors, although high salinity and high calcareous substrates may be instrumental. Chief disturbance factors are due to hurricanes and lightning strikes, both capable of causing substantial mangrove treefall. In many cases a pronounced gap is formed by lightning strikes, but such forest gaps actually engender higher sapling regrowth, due to elevated sunlight levels and slightly diminished salinity in the gaps.

Chief mangrove tree species found in this ecoregion are White Mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa), Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans); the Button Mangrove (Conocarpus erectus) is a related tree associate. Red mangrove tends to occupy the more seaward niches, while Black mangrove tends to occupy the more upland niches. Other plant associates occurring in this ecoregion are Dragonsblood Tree (Pterocarpus officinalis), Guiana-chestnut (Pachira aquatica) and Golden Leatherfern (Acrostichum aureum).

In addition to hydrological stabilisation leading to overall permanence of the shallow sea bottom, the Belizean coastal zone mangrove roots and seagrass blades provides abundant nutrients and shelter for a gamut of juvenile marine organisms. A notable marine mammal found in the shallow seas offshore is the threatened West Indian Manatee (Trichecus manatus), who subsists on the rich Turtle Grass (Thalassia hemprichii) stands found on the shallow sea floor.

Wood borers are generally more damaging to the mangroves than leaf herbivores. The most damaging leaf herbivores to the mangrove foliage are Lepidoptera larvae. Other prominent herbivores present in the ecoregion include the gasteropod Littorina angulifera and the Mangrove Tree Crab, Aratus pisonii.

Many avian species from further north winter in the Belizean coast mangroves, which boast availability of freshwater inflow during the dry season. Example bird species within or visiting this ecoregion include the Yucatan Parrot (Amazona xantholora), , Yucatan Jay (Cyanocorax yucatanicus), Black Catbird (Dumetella glabrirostris) and the Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulfuratus)

Upland fauna of the ecoregion include paca (Agouti paca), coatimundi (Nasua narica),  Baird’s Tapir (Tapirus bairdii), with Black Howler Monkey (Alouatta caraya) occurring in the riverine mangroves in the Sarstoon-Temash National Park. The Mantled Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata) can be observed along the mangrove fringes of the Monkey River mouth and other portions of this mangrove ecoregion.

Other aquatic reptiian species within the ecoregion include Morelet's Crocodile (Crocodylus moreletti), Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas), Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta), and Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempi).

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Comments: Roots and branches of mangrove trees (esp. RHIZOPHORA MANGLE) along estuarine to nearly freshwater shorelines.

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Depth range based on 7 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 2 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): -4 - 1
  Temperature range (°C): 27.858 - 27.858
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.255 - 0.255
  Salinity (PPS): 33.450 - 33.450
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.615 - 4.615
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.162 - 0.162
  Silicate (umol/l): 2.664 - 2.664

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): -4 - 1
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Trophic Strategy

The mangrove tree crab has been reported in some literature as an herbivore (de Lacerda 1981, Warner 1967), although it is more likely an opportunistic omnivore (Díaz & Cuesta 1989) in many instances. Observations in the field and examinations of gut contents have determined that A. pisonii consumes a variety of plant and animal tissue. Plant matter found in the guts of adult crabs consists of: several species of macroalgae; seagrasses including shoal grass, Halodule beaudettei and turtle grass, Thalassia testudinum; and the leaves of the white mangrove, L. racemosa, the red mangrove, R. mangle and the black mangrove A. germinans. Of these, R. mangle was the most abundant food, comprising approximately 84% of gut contents (Erickson et al. 2003). Crabs feed on living mangrove leaf tissue, leaving behind distinctive scraping marks (Beever et al. 1979, Erickson et al. 2003, Feller 1995). Even in areas of low crab abundance, this behavior can account for up to 96% of the herbivory in the mangrove forests (Feller & Chamberlain 2007), focused mainly on the older leaves in fringing zones (Erickson et al. 2003, Feller & Chamberlain 2007). In addition to plant material, crab guts have included animal matter such as nematodes, crustacean appendages, fish scales, foraminiferans and polychaetes (Erickson et al. 2003). The larvae of A. pisonii appear to be somewhat omnivorous as well. The majority of the diet in larvae studied consisted of diatoms, mangrove detritus, tintinnids and copepods were also consumed (Schwamborn et al. 2006). Predators: As with most organisms that reproduce via planktonic larvae, the mortality of A. pisonii is high. On average, it is estimated that only 0.04% of larvae live to become newly settled juveniles. Of those, about 17% reach an adult size of 1.8 cm (Warner 1967). One reason for mass mortality is the high level of predation. While in the water column, the larvae of A. pisonii may be preyed upon by a variety of other zooplankton, small fishes and benthic filter feeders like barnacles, hydroids and anemones. Once the mangrove tree crab reaches adulthood, it has the potential to be preyed upon by birds, mammals and larger crabs such as Goniopsis cruentata (Warner 1967). However, terrestrial predator avoidance in this species appears to be highly developed. Adults have the ability to cling tightly to tree branches and bark, may reach climbing speeds of 1 m/s and have the ability to leap from tree canopies onto mud banks or into the water below (Warner 1977). This jumping behavior may occasionally prove fatal as fishes can also consume A. pisonii when the crabs leap into the water (Díaz & Conde 1989). Social Behavior & Territoriality: Like many decapod crustaceans, mangrove tree crabs have developed social behaviors and territoriality. Females are most always subordinate, relegating physical disputes to the males in the population. Males have larger, more developed chelae, or claws, which they use to push each other during aggressive encounters concerning territory or mate choice (Warner 1970). Once a home range has been established, individuals may inhabit the same area for periods of several weeks to months (Warner 1970).
  • Abele, LG & W Kim. 1986. An illustrated guide to the marine decapod crustaceans of Florida, Part 2. Florida State Univ. Tallahassee, FL, USA. 760 pp.
  • Anger, K. 2001. The biology of decapod crustacean larvae. Crustacean Issues. 14: 13-36.
  • Beever, JW, Simberloff, D & LL King. 1979. Herbivory and predation by the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii. Oecologia. 43: 317-328.
  • Conde, JE & H Díaz. 1992. Variations in intraspecific relative size at the onset of maturity (RSOM) in Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsidae). Crustaceana. 62: 214-216.
  • Conde, JE & H Díaz. 1989. The mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii in a tropical estuarine coastal lagoon. Estuar. Coast. Shelf Sci. 28: 639-650.
  • Conde, JE, Tognella, MMP, Paes, ET, Soares, MLG, Louro, IA & Y Schaeffer-Novelli. 2000. Population and life history features of the crab Aratus pisonii (Decapoda: Grapsidae) in a subtropical estuary. Interciencia. 25: 151-158.
  • Cuesta, JA, García-Guerrero, MU, Rodríguez, A & ME Hendrickx. 2006. Larval morphology of the sesarmid crab, Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsoidea) from laboratory-reared material. Crustaceana. 79: 175-196.
  • de Lacerda, LD. 1981. Mangrove wood pulp, an alternative food source for the tree-crab Aratus pisonii. Biotropica. 13: 317.
  • Díaz, H & M Bevilacqua. 1986. Larval development of Aratus pisonii (Milne Edwards) (Brachyura, Grapsidae) from marine and estuarine environments reared under different salinity conditions. J. Coastal Res. 2: 43-49.
  • Díaz, H & M Bevilacqua. 1987. Early developmental sequences of Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards) (Brachyura, Grapsidae) under laboratory conditions. J. Coastal Res. 3: 63-70.
  • Díaz, H & JE Conde. 1989. Population dynamics and life history of the mangrove crab Aratus pisonii (Brachyura, Grapsidae) in a marine environment. Bull. Mar. Sci. 45: 148-163.
  • Erickson, AA, Saltis, M, Bell, SS & CJ Dawes. 2003. Herbivore feeding as measured by leaf damage and stomatal ingestion: a mangrove crab example. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 289: 123-138.
  • Feller, IC. 1995. Effects of nutrient enrichment on growth and herbivory of dwarf red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle). Ecol. Monogr. 65: 477-505.
  • Feller, IC & A Chamberlain. 2007. Herbivory responses to nutrient enrichment and landscape heterogeneity in a mangrove ecosystem. Oecologia. 153: 607-616.
  • Kaplan, EH. 1988. Southeastern and Caribbean seashores: Cape Hatteras to the Gulf coast, Florida, and the Caribbean. Houghton Mifflin. New York, NY, USA. 425 pp.
  • Rader, R & S Reed. 2005. A method of tagging Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsidae) crabs for population and behavioural studies. Crustaceana. 78: 361-365.
  • Ruppert, EE, Fox, RS & RD Barnes. 2004. Invertebrate zoology: A functional evolutionary approach. Brooks/Cole. Belmont, CA, USA. 963 pp.
  • Schwamborn, R, Ekau, W, Silva, AP, Schwamborn, SHL, Silva, TA, Neumann-Leitão, S & U Saint-Paul. 2006. Ingestion of large centric diatoms, mangrove detritus, and zooplankton by zoeae of Aratus pisonii (Crustacea: Brachyura: Grapsidae). Hydrobiologia. 560: 1-13.
  • Schwamborn, R, Ekau, W, Pinto, AS, Silva, TA & U Saint-Paul. 1999. The contribution of estuarine decapod larvae to marine macrozooplankton communities in northeast Brazil. Archive Fish. Mar. Res. 47: 167-182.
  • Schwamborn, R & U Saint-Paul. 1996. Mangroves - forgotten forests? Nat. Restor. Develop. 43/44: 13-36.
  • Schwamborn, R, Voss, M, Ekau, W & U Saint-Paul. 2002. How important are mangroves as carbon sources for decapod crustacean larvae in a tropical estuary? Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 229: 195-205.
  • Warner, GF. 1967. The life history of the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii. J. Zool. Lond. 153: 321-335.
  • Warner, GF. 1970. Behavior of two species of grapsid crabs during interspecific encounters. Behavior. 36: 9-19.
  • Warner, GF. 1977. The biology of crabs. Van Nostrand Reinhold. New York, NY, USA. 202 pp.
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Associations

As common inhabitants of mangrove canopies, A. pisonii are associated with other fauna dwelling in these habitats, including: birds, snakes, lizards, insects, snails, small mammals and other crabs. For a more extensive list of species found in the mangrove forests of the Indian River Lagoon, please refer to the Mangrove Habitats page of this inventory.
  • Abele, LG & W Kim. 1986. An illustrated guide to the marine decapod crustaceans of Florida, Part 2. Florida State Univ. Tallahassee, FL, USA. 760 pp.
  • Anger, K. 2001. The biology of decapod crustacean larvae. Crustacean Issues. 14: 13-36.
  • Beever, JW, Simberloff, D & LL King. 1979. Herbivory and predation by the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii. Oecologia. 43: 317-328.
  • Conde, JE & H Díaz. 1992. Variations in intraspecific relative size at the onset of maturity (RSOM) in Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsidae). Crustaceana. 62: 214-216.
  • Conde, JE & H Díaz. 1989. The mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii in a tropical estuarine coastal lagoon. Estuar. Coast. Shelf Sci. 28: 639-650.
  • Conde, JE, Tognella, MMP, Paes, ET, Soares, MLG, Louro, IA & Y Schaeffer-Novelli. 2000. Population and life history features of the crab Aratus pisonii (Decapoda: Grapsidae) in a subtropical estuary. Interciencia. 25: 151-158.
  • Cuesta, JA, García-Guerrero, MU, Rodríguez, A & ME Hendrickx. 2006. Larval morphology of the sesarmid crab, Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsoidea) from laboratory-reared material. Crustaceana. 79: 175-196.
  • de Lacerda, LD. 1981. Mangrove wood pulp, an alternative food source for the tree-crab Aratus pisonii. Biotropica. 13: 317.
  • Díaz, H & M Bevilacqua. 1986. Larval development of Aratus pisonii (Milne Edwards) (Brachyura, Grapsidae) from marine and estuarine environments reared under different salinity conditions. J. Coastal Res. 2: 43-49.
  • Díaz, H & M Bevilacqua. 1987. Early developmental sequences of Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards) (Brachyura, Grapsidae) under laboratory conditions. J. Coastal Res. 3: 63-70.
  • Díaz, H & JE Conde. 1989. Population dynamics and life history of the mangrove crab Aratus pisonii (Brachyura, Grapsidae) in a marine environment. Bull. Mar. Sci. 45: 148-163.
  • Erickson, AA, Saltis, M, Bell, SS & CJ Dawes. 2003. Herbivore feeding as measured by leaf damage and stomatal ingestion: a mangrove crab example. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 289: 123-138.
  • Feller, IC. 1995. Effects of nutrient enrichment on growth and herbivory of dwarf red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle). Ecol. Monogr. 65: 477-505.
  • Feller, IC & A Chamberlain. 2007. Herbivory responses to nutrient enrichment and landscape heterogeneity in a mangrove ecosystem. Oecologia. 153: 607-616.
  • Kaplan, EH. 1988. Southeastern and Caribbean seashores: Cape Hatteras to the Gulf coast, Florida, and the Caribbean. Houghton Mifflin. New York, NY, USA. 425 pp.
  • Rader, R & S Reed. 2005. A method of tagging Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsidae) crabs for population and behavioural studies. Crustaceana. 78: 361-365.
  • Ruppert, EE, Fox, RS & RD Barnes. 2004. Invertebrate zoology: A functional evolutionary approach. Brooks/Cole. Belmont, CA, USA. 963 pp.
  • Schwamborn, R, Ekau, W, Silva, AP, Schwamborn, SHL, Silva, TA, Neumann-Leitão, S & U Saint-Paul. 2006. Ingestion of large centric diatoms, mangrove detritus, and zooplankton by zoeae of Aratus pisonii (Crustacea: Brachyura: Grapsidae). Hydrobiologia. 560: 1-13.
  • Schwamborn, R, Ekau, W, Pinto, AS, Silva, TA & U Saint-Paul. 1999. The contribution of estuarine decapod larvae to marine macrozooplankton communities in northeast Brazil. Archive Fish. Mar. Res. 47: 167-182.
  • Schwamborn, R & U Saint-Paul. 1996. Mangroves - forgotten forests? Nat. Restor. Develop. 43/44: 13-36.
  • Schwamborn, R, Voss, M, Ekau, W & U Saint-Paul. 2002. How important are mangroves as carbon sources for decapod crustacean larvae in a tropical estuary? Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 229: 195-205.
  • Warner, GF. 1967. The life history of the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii. J. Zool. Lond. 153: 321-335.
  • Warner, GF. 1970. Behavior of two species of grapsid crabs during interspecific encounters. Behavior. 36: 9-19.
  • Warner, GF. 1977. The biology of crabs. Van Nostrand Reinhold. New York, NY, USA. 202 pp.
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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

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Mangrove tree crabs are a common inhabitant of mangrove ecosystems. Although absolute abundance measurements for the species are scarce, studies on Venezuelan populations of A. pisonii have yielded 20 to 170 individuals per study site (Conde & Díaz 1989, Díaz & Conde 1989). In Belize mangrove habitats, low crab abundances were seen, ranging between 0.03 to 0.10 crabs per cubic meter (Feller & Chamberlain 2007). Díaz and Conde (1989) observed that crab abundance may be related to species richness of nearby mangrove fouling communities and the presence of macroalgal food sources. In adult populations, sex ratios are often skewed toward females. This trend may develop because females exhibit slower growth rates than males on average, allowing them longer periods between risky and dangerous molting events (Díaz & Conde 1989).
  • Abele, LG & W Kim. 1986. An illustrated guide to the marine decapod crustaceans of Florida, Part 2. Florida State Univ. Tallahassee, FL, USA. 760 pp.
  • Anger, K. 2001. The biology of decapod crustacean larvae. Crustacean Issues. 14: 13-36.
  • Beever, JW, Simberloff, D & LL King. 1979. Herbivory and predation by the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii. Oecologia. 43: 317-328.
  • Conde, JE & H Díaz. 1992. Variations in intraspecific relative size at the onset of maturity (RSOM) in Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsidae). Crustaceana. 62: 214-216.
  • Conde, JE & H Díaz. 1989. The mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii in a tropical estuarine coastal lagoon. Estuar. Coast. Shelf Sci. 28: 639-650.
  • Conde, JE, Tognella, MMP, Paes, ET, Soares, MLG, Louro, IA & Y Schaeffer-Novelli. 2000. Population and life history features of the crab Aratus pisonii (Decapoda: Grapsidae) in a subtropical estuary. Interciencia. 25: 151-158.
  • Cuesta, JA, García-Guerrero, MU, Rodríguez, A & ME Hendrickx. 2006. Larval morphology of the sesarmid crab, Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsoidea) from laboratory-reared material. Crustaceana. 79: 175-196.
  • de Lacerda, LD. 1981. Mangrove wood pulp, an alternative food source for the tree-crab Aratus pisonii. Biotropica. 13: 317.
  • Díaz, H & M Bevilacqua. 1986. Larval development of Aratus pisonii (Milne Edwards) (Brachyura, Grapsidae) from marine and estuarine environments reared under different salinity conditions. J. Coastal Res. 2: 43-49.
  • Díaz, H & M Bevilacqua. 1987. Early developmental sequences of Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards) (Brachyura, Grapsidae) under laboratory conditions. J. Coastal Res. 3: 63-70.
  • Díaz, H & JE Conde. 1989. Population dynamics and life history of the mangrove crab Aratus pisonii (Brachyura, Grapsidae) in a marine environment. Bull. Mar. Sci. 45: 148-163.
  • Erickson, AA, Saltis, M, Bell, SS & CJ Dawes. 2003. Herbivore feeding as measured by leaf damage and stomatal ingestion: a mangrove crab example. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 289: 123-138.
  • Feller, IC. 1995. Effects of nutrient enrichment on growth and herbivory of dwarf red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle). Ecol. Monogr. 65: 477-505.
  • Feller, IC & A Chamberlain. 2007. Herbivory responses to nutrient enrichment and landscape heterogeneity in a mangrove ecosystem. Oecologia. 153: 607-616.
  • Kaplan, EH. 1988. Southeastern and Caribbean seashores: Cape Hatteras to the Gulf coast, Florida, and the Caribbean. Houghton Mifflin. New York, NY, USA. 425 pp.
  • Rader, R & S Reed. 2005. A method of tagging Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsidae) crabs for population and behavioural studies. Crustaceana. 78: 361-365.
  • Ruppert, EE, Fox, RS & RD Barnes. 2004. Invertebrate zoology: A functional evolutionary approach. Brooks/Cole. Belmont, CA, USA. 963 pp.
  • Schwamborn, R, Ekau, W, Silva, AP, Schwamborn, SHL, Silva, TA, Neumann-Leitão, S & U Saint-Paul. 2006. Ingestion of large centric diatoms, mangrove detritus, and zooplankton by zoeae of Aratus pisonii (Crustacea: Brachyura: Grapsidae). Hydrobiologia. 560: 1-13.
  • Schwamborn, R, Ekau, W, Pinto, AS, Silva, TA & U Saint-Paul. 1999. The contribution of estuarine decapod larvae to marine macrozooplankton communities in northeast Brazil. Archive Fish. Mar. Res. 47: 167-182.
  • Schwamborn, R & U Saint-Paul. 1996. Mangroves - forgotten forests? Nat. Restor. Develop. 43/44: 13-36.
  • Schwamborn, R, Voss, M, Ekau, W & U Saint-Paul. 2002. How important are mangroves as carbon sources for decapod crustacean larvae in a tropical estuary? Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 229: 195-205.
  • Warner, GF. 1967. The life history of the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii. J. Zool. Lond. 153: 321-335.
  • Warner, GF. 1970. Behavior of two species of grapsid crabs during interspecific encounters. Behavior. 36: 9-19.
  • Warner, GF. 1977. The biology of crabs. Van Nostrand Reinhold. New York, NY, USA. 202 pp.
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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

Like other brachyuran crabs, sex can be determined in A. pisonii by examining the abdomen. In females, it is broader and can be tightly flexed to hold the egg mass, called a sponge (eg. Ruppert et al. 2004). For A. pisonii, Warner (1967) found that females from 1.5 to 1.7 cm were the most common size class to breed. As with most decapod crustaceans, fertilization occurs during copulation shortly after the female molts. The male transfers sperm-filled cases, called spermatophores, to the female. After the eggs are fertilized, the female broods them on her abdomen until hatching. Although this species reproduces continuously, the peak of egg hatching may occur during the rainy season (Conde & Díaz 1989) or may be synchronized with lunar rhythm (Warner 1967, Warner 1977). At this time, the female climbs down from the tree into the water and rapidly vibrates her abdomen to release a cloud of larvae (Warner 1977). Each reproductive female may repeat this process up to six times annually (Warner 1967).Embryology / Larval Development:Depending on carapace width, each female may hold between 5,000 and 35,000 eggs (Conde & Díaz 1989, Warner 1977). After fertilization occurs, eggs hatch in approximately 16 days and begin the larval cycle in the water column (Warner 1977). Larvae pass through four zoeal stages and one megalopa, measuring between 0.6 and 0.9 mm (Cuesta et al. 2006), before settling to the benthos as juvenile crabs. Factors such as salinity, temperature and diet may affect growth and the duration of the larval period (Anger 2001). At 25°C and 34ppt, the entire settlement process spans about 20 days, and field observations have led to the estimation that newly hatched larvae can reach a juvenile size of 10mm in four to five months (Warner 1967).
  • Abele, LG & W Kim. 1986. An illustrated guide to the marine decapod crustaceans of Florida, Part 2. Florida State Univ. Tallahassee, FL, USA. 760 pp.
  • Anger, K. 2001. The biology of decapod crustacean larvae. Crustacean Issues. 14: 13-36.
  • Beever, JW, Simberloff, D & LL King. 1979. Herbivory and predation by the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii. Oecologia. 43: 317-328.
  • Conde, JE & H Díaz. 1992. Variations in intraspecific relative size at the onset of maturity (RSOM) in Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsidae). Crustaceana. 62: 214-216.
  • Conde, JE & H Díaz. 1989. The mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii in a tropical estuarine coastal lagoon. Estuar. Coast. Shelf Sci. 28: 639-650.
  • Conde, JE, Tognella, MMP, Paes, ET, Soares, MLG, Louro, IA & Y Schaeffer-Novelli. 2000. Population and life history features of the crab Aratus pisonii (Decapoda: Grapsidae) in a subtropical estuary. Interciencia. 25: 151-158.
  • Cuesta, JA, García-Guerrero, MU, Rodríguez, A & ME Hendrickx. 2006. Larval morphology of the sesarmid crab, Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsoidea) from laboratory-reared material. Crustaceana. 79: 175-196.
  • de Lacerda, LD. 1981. Mangrove wood pulp, an alternative food source for the tree-crab Aratus pisonii. Biotropica. 13: 317.
  • Díaz, H & M Bevilacqua. 1986. Larval development of Aratus pisonii (Milne Edwards) (Brachyura, Grapsidae) from marine and estuarine environments reared under different salinity conditions. J. Coastal Res. 2: 43-49.
  • Díaz, H & M Bevilacqua. 1987. Early developmental sequences of Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards) (Brachyura, Grapsidae) under laboratory conditions. J. Coastal Res. 3: 63-70.
  • Díaz, H & JE Conde. 1989. Population dynamics and life history of the mangrove crab Aratus pisonii (Brachyura, Grapsidae) in a marine environment. Bull. Mar. Sci. 45: 148-163.
  • Erickson, AA, Saltis, M, Bell, SS & CJ Dawes. 2003. Herbivore feeding as measured by leaf damage and stomatal ingestion: a mangrove crab example. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 289: 123-138.
  • Feller, IC. 1995. Effects of nutrient enrichment on growth and herbivory of dwarf red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle). Ecol. Monogr. 65: 477-505.
  • Feller, IC & A Chamberlain. 2007. Herbivory responses to nutrient enrichment and landscape heterogeneity in a mangrove ecosystem. Oecologia. 153: 607-616.
  • Kaplan, EH. 1988. Southeastern and Caribbean seashores: Cape Hatteras to the Gulf coast, Florida, and the Caribbean. Houghton Mifflin. New York, NY, USA. 425 pp.
  • Rader, R & S Reed. 2005. A method of tagging Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsidae) crabs for population and behavioural studies. Crustaceana. 78: 361-365.
  • Ruppert, EE, Fox, RS & RD Barnes. 2004. Invertebrate zoology: A functional evolutionary approach. Brooks/Cole. Belmont, CA, USA. 963 pp.
  • Schwamborn, R, Ekau, W, Silva, AP, Schwamborn, SHL, Silva, TA, Neumann-Leitão, S & U Saint-Paul. 2006. Ingestion of large centric diatoms, mangrove detritus, and zooplankton by zoeae of Aratus pisonii (Crustacea: Brachyura: Grapsidae). Hydrobiologia. 560: 1-13.
  • Schwamborn, R, Ekau, W, Pinto, AS, Silva, TA & U Saint-Paul. 1999. The contribution of estuarine decapod larvae to marine macrozooplankton communities in northeast Brazil. Archive Fish. Mar. Res. 47: 167-182.
  • Schwamborn, R & U Saint-Paul. 1996. Mangroves - forgotten forests? Nat. Restor. Develop. 43/44: 13-36.
  • Schwamborn, R, Voss, M, Ekau, W & U Saint-Paul. 2002. How important are mangroves as carbon sources for decapod crustacean larvae in a tropical estuary? Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 229: 195-205.
  • Warner, GF. 1967. The life history of the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii. J. Zool. Lond. 153: 321-335.
  • Warner, GF. 1970. Behavior of two species of grapsid crabs during interspecific encounters. Behavior. 36: 9-19.
  • Warner, GF. 1977. The biology of crabs. Van Nostrand Reinhold. New York, NY, USA. 202 pp.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Aratus pisonii

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Species is fairly widespread. However, habitat is threatened by development, especially in Florida.

Other Considerations: Species is of conservation concern in Florida.

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Threats

Degree of Threat: B : Moderately threatened throughout its range, communities provide natural resources that when exploited alter the composition and structure of the community over the long-term, but are apparently recoverable

Comments: Shoreline habitat has been and continues to be destroyed or degraded for housing and development, particularly in south Florida.

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Management

Global Protection: Unknown whether any occurrences are appropriately protected and managed

Comments: There is some protection for mangroves in Florida, but no direct protection for this species.

Needs: Increased protection/preservation of mangroves; acquisition of some EOs.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

In addition to contributing the majority of herbivory in many mangrove habitats, A. pisonii impacts lagoon ecosystems as an important producer of zooplankton to the surrounding water column. The production of thousands of crab zoeae is thought to be one of the main pathways of energy transfer between benthic and pelagic food webs (Schwamborn et al. 1999, Schwamborn et al. 2002, Schwamborn & Saint-Paul 1996). These zoeae join other invertebrate larvae that are consumed by a variety of organisms in and around mangrove communities.
  • Abele, LG & W Kim. 1986. An illustrated guide to the marine decapod crustaceans of Florida, Part 2. Florida State Univ. Tallahassee, FL, USA. 760 pp.
  • Anger, K. 2001. The biology of decapod crustacean larvae. Crustacean Issues. 14: 13-36.
  • Beever, JW, Simberloff, D & LL King. 1979. Herbivory and predation by the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii. Oecologia. 43: 317-328.
  • Conde, JE & H Díaz. 1992. Variations in intraspecific relative size at the onset of maturity (RSOM) in Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsidae). Crustaceana. 62: 214-216.
  • Conde, JE & H Díaz. 1989. The mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii in a tropical estuarine coastal lagoon. Estuar. Coast. Shelf Sci. 28: 639-650.
  • Conde, JE, Tognella, MMP, Paes, ET, Soares, MLG, Louro, IA & Y Schaeffer-Novelli. 2000. Population and life history features of the crab Aratus pisonii (Decapoda: Grapsidae) in a subtropical estuary. Interciencia. 25: 151-158.
  • Cuesta, JA, García-Guerrero, MU, Rodríguez, A & ME Hendrickx. 2006. Larval morphology of the sesarmid crab, Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsoidea) from laboratory-reared material. Crustaceana. 79: 175-196.
  • de Lacerda, LD. 1981. Mangrove wood pulp, an alternative food source for the tree-crab Aratus pisonii. Biotropica. 13: 317.
  • Díaz, H & M Bevilacqua. 1986. Larval development of Aratus pisonii (Milne Edwards) (Brachyura, Grapsidae) from marine and estuarine environments reared under different salinity conditions. J. Coastal Res. 2: 43-49.
  • Díaz, H & M Bevilacqua. 1987. Early developmental sequences of Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards) (Brachyura, Grapsidae) under laboratory conditions. J. Coastal Res. 3: 63-70.
  • Díaz, H & JE Conde. 1989. Population dynamics and life history of the mangrove crab Aratus pisonii (Brachyura, Grapsidae) in a marine environment. Bull. Mar. Sci. 45: 148-163.
  • Erickson, AA, Saltis, M, Bell, SS & CJ Dawes. 2003. Herbivore feeding as measured by leaf damage and stomatal ingestion: a mangrove crab example. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 289: 123-138.
  • Feller, IC. 1995. Effects of nutrient enrichment on growth and herbivory of dwarf red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle). Ecol. Monogr. 65: 477-505.
  • Feller, IC & A Chamberlain. 2007. Herbivory responses to nutrient enrichment and landscape heterogeneity in a mangrove ecosystem. Oecologia. 153: 607-616.
  • Kaplan, EH. 1988. Southeastern and Caribbean seashores: Cape Hatteras to the Gulf coast, Florida, and the Caribbean. Houghton Mifflin. New York, NY, USA. 425 pp.
  • Rader, R & S Reed. 2005. A method of tagging Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsidae) crabs for population and behavioural studies. Crustaceana. 78: 361-365.
  • Ruppert, EE, Fox, RS & RD Barnes. 2004. Invertebrate zoology: A functional evolutionary approach. Brooks/Cole. Belmont, CA, USA. 963 pp.
  • Schwamborn, R, Ekau, W, Silva, AP, Schwamborn, SHL, Silva, TA, Neumann-Leitão, S & U Saint-Paul. 2006. Ingestion of large centric diatoms, mangrove detritus, and zooplankton by zoeae of Aratus pisonii (Crustacea: Brachyura: Grapsidae). Hydrobiologia. 560: 1-13.
  • Schwamborn, R, Ekau, W, Pinto, AS, Silva, TA & U Saint-Paul. 1999. The contribution of estuarine decapod larvae to marine macrozooplankton communities in northeast Brazil. Archive Fish. Mar. Res. 47: 167-182.
  • Schwamborn, R & U Saint-Paul. 1996. Mangroves - forgotten forests? Nat. Restor. Develop. 43/44: 13-36.
  • Schwamborn, R, Voss, M, Ekau, W & U Saint-Paul. 2002. How important are mangroves as carbon sources for decapod crustacean larvae in a tropical estuary? Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 229: 195-205.
  • Warner, GF. 1967. The life history of the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii. J. Zool. Lond. 153: 321-335.
  • Warner, GF. 1970. Behavior of two species of grapsid crabs during interspecific encounters. Behavior. 36: 9-19.
  • Warner, GF. 1977. The biology of crabs. Van Nostrand Reinhold. New York, NY, USA. 202 pp.
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© Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce

Source: Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory

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Wikipedia

Aratus pisonii

Aratus pisonii, commonly known as the mangrove tree crab, is a species of crab which lives in mangrove trees in tropical and subtropical parts of the Americas, from Florida to Brazil on the Atlantic coast, and from Nicaragua to Peru on the Pacific coast. It feeds mostly on the leaves of the mangroves, but is an omnivore, and prefers animal matter when possible.[3] A. pisonii is the only species in the monotypic genus Aratus.[2] The specific epithet pisonii commemorates the Dutch naturalist Willem Piso who travelled in Brazil in 1638 with Georg Marggraf.[4]

Description[edit]

The mangrove tree crab is a small species with males averaging about 2 centimetres (0.79 in) long and females slightly less. The large eyes are set far apart and the carapace is wider at the front than at the back. It is a mottled brown and olive colour which helps the crab to blend in with its surroundings. The legs are either brown or mottled and there are tufts of black hairs near their tips. These are pointed which aids the crab when climbing among the mangrove foliage. [5]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The mangrove tree crab is found in tropical and semitropical regions along the coasts of North, Central and South America. On the Atlantic side its range extends from Florida to northern Brazil, including the whole Caribbean region. On the Pacific side, it occurs from Nicaragua to Peru. It lives primarily on the red mangrove Rhizophora mangle but is also commonly seen on the white mangrove Laguncularia racemosa and the black mangrove Avicennia germinans, ascending the trees when the tide rises and descending to the exposed mud when the tide goes down.[5]

Ecology[edit]

The mangrove tree crab is an omnivore though the greatest part of its diet is the leaves of the mangrove trees on which it lives.[5] It consumes the epidermis of the leaves and characteristic scraping marks show where it has fed. Even where this crab is uncommon, its consumption may constitute over 90% of the herbivory of mangrove leaves. It also eats organic debris and opportunistically feeds on carrion and small invertebrates including polychaete worms, nematodes and foraminiferans.[5] In feeding trials it was found that this crab prefers animal food over plant food.[6] This is unsurprising considering that mangrove leaves are of poor nutritional value, but what is surprising is the high proportion of leaf matter in the crab's diet. It is possible that this is a response to the greater risk of predation in the water than in the canopy.[6]

The mangrove tree crab is preyed on by birds, terrestrial mammals and larger crabs. It is efficient at evading potential predators as it can scuttle along branches at the rate of one metre (yard) per second and can leap to safety in the water below. Here it may become the victim of a predatory fish.[5]

Reproduction[edit]

In northern Brazil, breeding takes place over an extended period but peaks in the rainy season. The female mangrove tree crab carries the fertilised eggs under her abdomen until they are ready to hatch. While they are there she moves to the fringes of the mangrove area where conditions are better for the developing embryos and the release of the newly hatched larvae into the sea. The larvae pass through four zoeal stages and one megalopa stage as part of the plankton over the course of a month.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Aratus pisonii". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. 
  2. ^ a b Peter K. L. Ng, Danièle Guinot & Peter J. F. Davie (2008). "Systema Brachyurorum: Part I. An annotated checklist of extant Brachyuran crabs of the world" (PDF). Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 17: 1–286. 
  3. ^ Amy A. Erickson, Ilka C. Feller, Valerie J. Paul, Lisa M. Kwiatkowski & Woody Lee (2008). "Selection of an omnivorous diet by the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii in laboratory experiments". Journal of Sea Research 59 (1–2): 59–69. doi:10.1016/j.seares.2007.06.007. 
  4. ^ Henri Milne-Edwards (1837). Histoire naturelle des crustacés: comprenant l'anatomie, la physiologie et la classification de ces animaux 2. Paris: Librairie encyclopédique de Roret. p. 76. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Sweat, L. H. (2009-06-08). "Aratus pisonii". Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce. Retrieved 2012-10-25. 
  6. ^ a b Erickson, Amy A.; Feller, Ilka C.; Paul, Valerie J.; Kwiatkowski, Lisa M.; Lee, Woody (2008). "Selection of an omnivorous diet by the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii in laboratory experiments". Journal of Sea Research 59: 59–69. doi:10.1016/j.seares.2007.06.007. 
  7. ^ de Arruda Leme, Maria Helena; Negreiros-Fransozo, Maria Luciao (1998). "Reproductive patterns of Aratus pisonii (Decapoda: Grapsidae) from an estuarine area of São Paulo Northern Coast, Brazil". Revista de Biología Tropical 46 (3): 673–678. 
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