Ecotone analysis: assessing the impact of vehicle transit on saltmarsh crab population and ecosystem

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The frequent transit of vehicles (recreational or not) through saltpans and saltmarsh fields has been recorded as one of the major causes of physical and ecological damage for these environments. While several studies have been carried out to assess the consequence of this anthropogenic activity on the different local plant species, little is known on its long-term impact on the faunal community. Invertebrates, such as crabs, provide several essential ecological services, and their presence and abundance are tightly connected to that of the saltmarsh plants. Decrease of vegetative cover due to vehicle transit is likely to cause alterations in the morphology and the composition of the saltmarsh ecosystem. In this study we evaluate presence and distribution of the main crustacean species in several impacted sites in Townsville area (Queensland, Australia), to determine possible correlation between vehicle tracks alterations and crab distribution, as well as investigate any possible habitat shift in the mid- and long-term. Results indicate that reduction of plant cover affects species composition and distribution, with different effects based on the unique characteristics of each crab species analysed, resulting in an overall alteration of the assemblage structure.




Trave, C., & Sheaves, M. (2014). Ecotone analysis: assessing the impact of vehicle transit on saltmarsh crab population and ecosystem. SpringerPlus, 3(1).

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