Juvenile Epilobocera sinuatifrons growth rates and ontogenetic shifts in feeding in wild populations
Fraiola, Kauaoa Matthew Sam
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Freshwater amphibious crabs are understudied and found in tropical streams of many parts of the world and have the potential to influence stream and terrestrial communities. In this thesis I investigate basic biology and ecology aspects of the freshwater amphibious crab Epilobocera sinuatifrons in headwater streams of the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico. I measured growth rates of juvenile crabs given high and low quality food resources, and investigated ontogenetic shifts in feeding using natural abundances of stable isotopes δ13C and δ15N in crab tissue from two streams. Crabs are slow growing, with no differences in growth rates on different quality foods. Stable carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes suggest that crabs are increasing their trophic position as they grow larger in the wild, possibly the result of foraging on land as adults. These studies suggest that E. sinuatifrons are long lived and may require a range of foods to survive.