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Geographic and gender shape differences in the carapace of Liocarcinus depurator (Brachyura: Portunidae) using geometric morphometrics and the influence of a digitizing method


Marta Rufino. Current address: CripSul, Ipimar/Iniap, Av. 5 Outubro, s/n 8700-305 Olhão, Portugal.


The current work describes the use of geometric morphometrics in the study of the portunid crab Liocarcinus depurator carapace shape variation along the Mediterranean coast of Spain. As a first step, the differences in shape induced by digitizing the carapace with either a digital camera or a flat bed scanner were investigated. Carapace shape information inferred from the camera images proved different from that obtained from the scanner images. This difference was greater than any shape variation because of crab gender or sample location. Carapace shape was analysed using multiple analysis of covariance (with centroid size as a covariate) of the partial warps and uniform components indicating differences between genders and between sample location; however, significant three-way interaction implied that such differences were gender and location specific. Landmarks identifying carapace width, carapace length and posterior carapace width showed greatest variation; hence gender and location differences were further analysed through the interrelationships between these linear measures. Regression analysis of the relationship between posterior carapace width and the ratio of carapace width to carapace length indicated clear differences between locations but not between genders. Crabs from the Alborán Sea had proportionally wider posterior carapaces than those from Alicante or North Catalonia. This finding may represent the difference between a southern influx of an Atlantic population distinguishable from a more northerly Mediterranean one, which would be in agreement with the overall oceanographic surface circulation pattern in the western Mediterranean.