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Ecological observations on crab communities (Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura) on intertidal mudflats in the western Arabian Gulf and the effect of the 1991 oil spill

A b s t r a c t: Between June 1992 and May 1993 four transects on muddy shores along the Saudi Arabian Gulf coast were monitored for intertidal Brachyura. Two of these sites had been heavily oiled during the 1991 oil spill, while the other two were selected as reference sites. At the oiled sites the brachyuran fauna was drastically reduced in terms of species diversity and abundance. The upper shore was still covered with tar and showed only limited resettlement in much of the affected area, whereas the mid eulittoral showed good signs of recovery and recolonisation by brachyuran decapods. Low abundance of intertidal Brachyura in the lower eulittoral of oiled transects is discussed as a possible long-term or indirect effect of the oil spill. Data on seasonality of reproductive activity and recruitment at the control sires were collected and revealed different reproductive strategies and seasonal patterns for upper and lower shore species. Recruitment at the oiled transects was observed for several species.


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