Population demographics of Palaemon peringueyi (Macpherson 1990) (Decapoda: Palaemonidae) in a small intermittently open Eastern Cape estuary
The population demographics of the caridean shrimp Palaemon peringueyi was investigated monthly at four sites over a period of one year in the small, intermittently-open Grants River Estuary situated on the south-east coastline of southern Africa. Mean total abundance and biomass of P. peringueyi ranged between 0 and 23.2 ind m−2 and 0 and 2.3mg wwt m−2, respectively. A peak in its abundance coincided with a breaching event that occurred in December 2004, and could be attributed to the mass recruitment of juveniles (carapace length <9mm) into the estuary. Minor peaks in abundance were also associated with marine waters overtopping the sandbar that separates the estuary from the marine environment. The highest biomass values were recorded when the estuary was separated from the sea. Maximum abundance and biomass values of P. peringueyi were generally recorded in the middle reaches of the estuary where extensive beds of submerged vegetation, mainly Potamogeton pectinatus, predominated. Pearson correlation analysis indicated that the total abundance of P. peringueyi was significantly correlated (r = 0.49; p < 0.05) to percentage cover of submerged vegetation. The spatial pattern in abundance and biomass values of the shrimp is thought to reflect the availability of refuge areas against predation. A distinct spatial pattern in the community structure of the shrimp was evident, with juveniles numerically dominating the samples in the lower reaches of the estuary, while mature females predominated in the upper reaches of the system. In the middle reaches, the community comprised both juveniles and adults.