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Movement of Coconut Crabs, Birgus latro, in a Rainforest Habitat in Vanuatu

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Title: Movement of Coconut Crabs, Birgus latro, in a Rainforest Habitat in Vanuatu
Authors: Fletcher, W.J.
Brown, I.W.
Fielder, D.R.
Issue Date: Oct 1990
Publisher: University of Hawaii Press
Citation: Fletcher WJ, Brown IW, Fielder DR. 1990. Movement of coconut crabs, Birgus latro, in a rainforest habitat in Vanuatu. Pac Sci 44(4): 407-416.
Abstract: Patterns of movement in the coconut crab, Birgus latro (L.), were
studied using mark-recapture and radio-tracking techniques at a number of
sites in the rainforest regions of eastern Santo, Republic of Vanuatu (South
Pacific). Movement was assessed both for crabs caught and released in one place
(indigenous) and for crabs caught and then released at a new location
(introduced). Recapture rates in eastern Santo were very small ( < I%), whereas
on the small islet sites (area <2 ha) the rate approached 20%. There were no
significant relationships between distance moved and either time at liberty or
size of the individuals for introduced crabs. But for indigenous crabs, size of
individual was negatively correlated with distance moved. Recapture rates of
introduced and indigenous crabs were similar , but introduced crabs moved
significantly further from their point of release. Almost all radio-tagged crabs
moved from their point of release; smaller crabs tended to move further. On
eastern Santo, only two of five radio-tagged crabs were located again ; both had
moved over 250-m away from their release point. On the islet sites, all radiotagged
crabs were found again at least once; some of these returned to a number
of different sites, indicating that B. latro seems to be able to home to particular
locations. Nonetheless, dispersal of animals from an area, at least after handling,
is a common feature.
ISSN: 0030-8870
Appears in Collections:Pacific Science Volume 44, Number 4, 1990

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