Selection of an omnivorous diet by the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii in laboratory experiments

ERICKSON, A and FELLER, I and PAUL, V and KWIATKOWSKI, L and LEE, W (2008) Selection of an omnivorous diet by the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii in laboratory experiments. Journal of Sea Research, 59 (1-2). pp. 59-69. ISSN 13851101

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    Observational studies on leaf damage, gut content analyses, and crab behaviour have demonstrated that like numerous other mangrove and salt-marsh generalists, the mangrove tree crab Aratus pisonii feeds on a variety of food resources. This study is the first that experimentally tests feeding preferences of A. pisonii, as well as the first to test experimentally whether chemical composition of food resources is responsible for food selection. Feeding preferences were determined among a variety of plant, algal, and animal resources available in the field both in Florida and Belize, using multiple-choice feeding assays, where male and female crabs simultaneously were offered a variety of food items. To test whether chemistry of food resources was responsible for feeding preferences, chemical extracts of food resources were incorporated in an agar-based artificial food, and used in feeding assays. Results of feeding assays suggest that crabs prefer animal matter from∼2.5 to 13× more than other available resources, including leaves of the red mangrove Rhizophora mangle, which contribute the most to their natural diet. Artificial feeding assays also demonstrated that chemical cues were responsible for selection of animal matter, up to 25× more than other available resources. Non-polar extracts (derived from extraction in 1:1 ethyl actetate:methanol) stimulated feeding the most, suggesting that fatty acids, triglycerides, or sterols may be important for growth, reproduction, or survival. Results for both sexes were similar across most assays. While chemical composition of food resources appears to play some role in selection, this does not discount the potential role of other factors, such as resource availability, competition, predation, or reproductive requirements in influencing feeding preferences. Bioassay-guided fractionation of extracts should aid in determining chemical constituents that play the greatest role in determining feeding preferences.

    Item Type: Peer-reviewed Journal Article
    Related URLs:
    Unique ID or DOI: 10.1016/j.seares.2007.06.007
    Publisher: Elsevier
    Keywords: Aratus pisonii; Compensatory feeding; Feeding preference; Mangroves; Omnivores; Rhizophora mangle
    Subjects: (A) Biodiversity > (AF) Invertebrates > (AFB) Marine
    (C) Ecosystems > (CB) Marine > (CBE) Mangroves
    Publication Sources: (3) Other Source > (3D) Other or Unspecified
    Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2010 14:48
    Last Modified: 20 Jan 2011 14:25

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