Feeding Habits of the Blue Crab, Callinectes Sapidus Rathbun, in the Apalachicola Estuary, Florida
Abstract:The feeding habits of the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus, were studied for 1 year in the Apalachicola estuary in northern Florida. Although omnivory and detritivory were evident in all size classes, three major trophic groups were isolated based on marked seasonal and spatial differences in diet, composition and diversity. Day-night differences in diet or in total food consumption were not evident. The variety in feeding habits of larger crabs (>60-mm carapace width) as shown by season and station differences was significantly less than that of the smaller ones. Season and station differences in diet were most pronounced in smaller crabs. The diet of small crabs (recruits) from shallow areas differed from those from deep areas and it was directly correlated with abundance of recruits (<31 mm). The feeding habits of larger crabs was qualitatively comparable at all stations, but was directly influenced by the abundance of food at local areas.
I concluded that the feeding habits of all crabs were dependent on whatever food items were locally available. Because of basic differences in the feeding strategy of successive ontogenetic stages, such units, and not the species as a whole should be used in models of food webs.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1982-10-01
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