, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 709–719 | Cite as

Evaluating salt marsh restoration in Delaware Bay: The response of blue crabs,Callinectes sapidus, at former salt hay farms

  • Paul R. Jivoff
  • Kenneth W. Able


Marshes are important habitats for various life history stages of many fish and invertebrates. Much effort has been directed at restoring marshes, yet it is not clear how fish and invertebrates have responded to marsh restoration. The blue crab,Callinectes sapidus, uses marsh habitats during much of its benthic life. We investigated the response of blue crabs to marsh restoration by comparing crab abundance (catch per unit effort), mean size and size frequency distribution, sex ratio, and molt stages of crabs in recently restored marshes that were former salt hay farms to that of adjacent reference marshes with similar physical characteristics in the mesohaline portion of Delaware Bay. Field sampling occurred monthly (April–November) in 1997 and 1998 using replicate daytime otter trawls in large marsh creeks and weirs in smaller intertidal marsh creeks. Blue crabs were either equal or more abundant, the incidence of molting was in most months similar, and population sex ratios were indistinguishable in restored and reference marshes, suggesting that the restored areas attract crabs and support their growth. Site location had a greater effect on the sex ratio of crabs such that marshes closer to the mouth of the bay contained a higher percentage of adult female crabs. In each annual growing season (April–July), the monthly increase in crab size and, in some months (June–July), the incidence of molting at the restored sites was greater than the reference sites, suggesting that the restored sites may provide areas for enhanced growth of crabs. These results suggest that blue crabs have responded positively to restoration of former salt hay farms in the mesohaline portion of Delaware Bay.


Blue Crab Life History Stage Size Frequency Distribution Marsh Habitat Reference Marsh 
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.


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Copyright information

© Estuarine Research Federation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyRider UniversityLawrenceville
  2. 2.Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Marine Field StationRutgers UniversityTuckerton

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