Wetlands (Australia), Vol 20, No 2 (2002)

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Non-destructive sampling techniques for the rapid assessment of population parameters in estuarine shore crabs

G R MacFarlane


Retrieving burrowing shore crabs to obtain information regarding their morphological attributes is often difficult and results in significant disturbance and habitat modification. A simple, rapid and non-destructive sampling method was proposed for indirectly estimating crab abundance, morphology and mass through the counting of burrow numbers and their diameter. Measurement of the number of crab burrows was found to correlate with crab abundance via both excavation and video observation techniques. Burrow diameters of individuals were also correlated with carapace width and body mass. Measuring burrow opening diameters along with the number of holes allows an indirect estimate of morphology and mass, which increases the information gained through such rapid sampling techniques and allows assessment of both structural and functional processes at the population level which may be affected through anthropogenic disturbance.

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