Promoting Biodiversity in a Pinch: The Influence of a Hawaiian Coastal Refuge on Ghost Crab (Ocypodidae) Size and Density on Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi.

Tritsch, Jessica
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In an effort to preserve ecosystem biodiversity, marine protected areas (MPAs) are established following governmental regulations. To better understand the significance of the refuge, ghost crabs (genus Ocypode, Hawaiian name Ōhiki), which tunnel deep into the sand and leave behind burrow holes, were used as an indicator species. The goal of this research was to compare the size, abundance, and density of ghost crabs inside and outside of James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge (JCNWR) to test the hypothesis of the success of beach biota from conservation. First, the sandy locations along the site were mapped using a GPS, then transects were randomized both inside and outside JCNWR. Within each transect, the burrow holes were counted, and the diameters were measured to estimate body size and abundance. The total number of burrows per unit area was used to calculate population densities. The results show no significant difference in ghost crab size or density inside versus outside the refuge. The results suggest the refuge is experiencing possible disturbance or the “spillover effect” providing protection to adjacent areas. Ultimately, the findings from this research can aid in conservation efforts at JCNWR to better protect the terrestrial crab.
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