Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

Trophic relationships between itinerant fish and crab larvae in a temperate Australian saltmarsh

Debashish Mazumder A D , Neil Saintilan B and Robert J. Williams C

A Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, PMB 1, Menai, NSW 2234, Australia.

B River and Wetlands Unit, Department of Environment and Conservation, PO Box A 290, Sydney South, NSW 1232, Australia.

C Department of Primary Industry, Cronulla Fisheries Centre, 202 Nicholson Pde, Cronulla, NSW 2230, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email:

Marine and Freshwater Research 57(2) 193-199
Submitted: 5 March 2005  Accepted: 16 January 2006   Published: 23 February 2006


Comparisons of zooplankton inputs and outputs for a temperate Australian saltmarsh demonstrate a substantial contribution of crab larvae to the ebbing tide water, particularly during the cooler months. Few crab larvae were present in the incoming tide (mean abundance 4 m-3), whereas many crab larvae were present in the outgoing water (mean abundance 2124.63 m-3). Stomach content analysis of itinerant fish exiting the saltmarsh with the ebbing tide demonstrated extremely high proportions of crab larvae in the gut of glassfish (Ambassis jacksoniensis), as well as flat tail mullet (Liza argentea) and blue eye (Pseudomugil signifer). The results suggest a direct trophic link between secondary production of saltmarsh and itinerant fish, and a significant ecological role for burrowing crabs occupying saltmarshes in temperate Australia in the trophic food web of saltmarsh–estuarine systems.

Extra keywords: burrowing crabs, estuarine, juvenile fish, Towra Point.


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