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The impact of Sacculina carcini infection on the nutritional status of the shore crab Carcinus maenas was investigated in the western Dutch Wadden Sea for a period of 20 months. About 3.3% of the population was sacculinized, i.e. externally infected with S. carcini and only 0.7% presented scars of previous infection. The results of mixed linear models showed that sacculinized and non-sacculinized crabs had similar morphometric condition, while the energy density of parasitized crabs (externa excluded) was significantly reduced by about 4.3% overall, and by up to 5.8% in crabs under 40 mm carapace width. However, when Sacculina externa was included in the energy determinations, the difference in energy density decreased to 1.2%, while total energy content of the pair infected crab-parasite including externa was 30.8% higher than non-sacculinized crabs of similar size. The total energy content of ovigerous females (eggs included) was even higher, near doubling the energy of similar-sized crabs. The same way, total energy content of Sacculina externa was about 4 times lower than total energy of egg mass. The results suggest that the rhizocephalan parasite is efficient in consuming the energy that the host may allocate for growth and maintenance, but require future studies to disentangle the impact of the degree of internal infection and the implications for the dynamics of the population.
The ichthyofauna of the River Minho tidal freshwater wetlands (TFWs) was studied in a semi-enclosed area, between June 2007 and May 2010, to determine temporal patterns of abundance, biomass and species composition. Fish catches, standardized by the number of fyke nets and by the fishing effort, were analysed and related to river flow, water temperature and precipitation. In total, 21 fish species were identified including six non-indigenous species (NIS) which represented 15% of the total captures (yet 43% of the biomass). Regarding ecological guilds, 82% were freshwater species (61% of the biomass) which included all NIS, whereas 13% of the catches were catadromous species (31% biomass) corresponding to eels. Only 4% were estuarine species (1% biomass) and together marine estuarine opportunists and anadromous species accomplished 1% (2 and 6% biomass, respectively). The fish assemblage showed seasonal patterns with a clear distinction between autumn/winter and spring/summer periods. Significant differences in abundance and biomass were also detected between autumn/winter of 2007/2008 and 2008/2009, i.e., inter-annual variations, with the latter period with lower catches yet higher dominance of NIS. Besides, higher water temperature had a significant negative effect on the observed number of species, but a positive effect on the abundance and biomass of NIS. More attention has to be given to TFWs and their role in structuring fish assemblages, because this information is vital for a sound management, conservation and restoration of estuarine areas.
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