We sampled blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) numbers in marshes on the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas from 1998-2006, while simultaneously censusing the wintering population of Whooping Cranes (Grus americana) on the refuge and surrounding habitats. This was done to determine whether mortality of wintering Whooping Cranes was related to the availability of this food source. Yearly variation in crab numbers was high, ranging from a low of 0.1 crabs to a high of 3.4 crabs per 100-m transect section. Significant non-linear increases in both juvenile and adult mortality in relation to decreasing crab abundance was observed. Results suggest that some threshold of crab abundance exists in which Whooping Cranes have higher survival on their wintering grounds.
Additional publication details
The relationship of blue crab abundance to winter mortality of Whooping Cranes