Marine Biology

, Volume 156, Issue 5, pp 891–899 | Cite as

Habitat selectivity of megalopae and juvenile mud crabs (Scylla serrata): implications for recruitment mechanism

  • James A. C. WebleyEmail author
  • Rod M. Connolly
  • Ruth A. Young
Original Paper


Megalopae of several crab species exhibit active habitat selection when settling. These megalopae usually select structurally complex habitats which can provide refuge and food. The portunid mud crab, Scylla serrata, is commonly found within the muddy estuaries of the Indo-West Pacific after attaining a carapace width >40 mm. Despite substantial efforts, the recruitment mechanism of juvenile mud crabs to estuaries is not understood because their megalopae and early stage crablets (carapace width <30 mm) are rarely found. We used laboratory experiments to determine whether megalopae and early stage crablets are selective among three estuarine habitats which commonly occur in Queensland, Australia. These animals were placed in arenas where they had a choice of habitats: seagrass, mud or sand, and arenas where they had no choice. Contrary to the associations exhibited by other portunid crab megalopae, S. serrata megalopae were not selective among these estuarine habitats, suggesting that they tend not to encounter these habitats, or, gain no advantage by selecting one over the others. The crablets, however, strongly selected seagrass, suggesting that residing within seagrass is beneficial to the crablets and likely increases survival. This supports the model that for S. serrata, crablets and not megalopae tend to colonise estuaries, since a selective behaviour has evolved within crablets but not megalopae.


Arena Blue Crab Complex Habitat Carapace Width Estuarine Habitat 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank the staff from the Bribie Island Aquaculture Research Centre, Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, for their rearing of megalopae and crablets. We are also grateful to K. Pitt and N. Waltham for assistance. Experiments complied with the current laws applicable to Queensland, Australia.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • James A. C. Webley
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rod M. Connolly
    • 1
  • Ruth A. Young
    • 1
  1. 1.Australian Rivers Institute-Coasts and Estuaries, Griffith School of EnvironmentGriffith UniversityGoldcoastAustralia

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