Behavioural responses of the mangrove fiddler crabs ( Uca annulipes and U. inversa) to urban sewage loadings: Results of a mesocosm approach
The study aimed at investigating the effects of sewage loadings on the behaviour of two fiddler crabs species maintained in a system of experimental mesocosms, built in a mangrove area in Tanzania and inundated with different seawater/sewage mixtures. Our results show that sewage loads led to a modification of the overall activity budget of the crab community as a result of increased hypertrophic conditions (high COD, increased chlorophyll-a concentrations). During their activity period, crabs inside contaminated mesocosms seemed to satisfy their feeding demand faster than those of the control cells, spending a significant longer time in other activities like courtship and territorial defence. Apart from being a good biological indication of ecosystem eutrophication, such a reduced foraging activity by fiddler crabs also depresses their sediment bioturbation activity, important factor for the health of mangrove systems, suggesting practical implications regarding the efficiency of mangrove-based wetlands for treatment of domestic sewage.