Latin American Journal of Aquatic Research, 41 (4) August 2013 (SPECIAL ISSUE)
Species diversity and distribution of freshwater crabs (Decapoda: Pseudothelphusidae) inhabiting the basin of the Rio Grande de Térraba, Pacific slope of Costa Rica.
During the last decades, knowledge on biodiversity of freshwater decapods has increased considerably; however, information about ecology of these crustaceans is scarce. Currently, the freshwater decapod fauna of Costa Rica is comprised by representatives of three families (Caridea: Palaemonidae and Atyidae; Brachyura: Pseudothelphusidae). The present study aims to describe the species diversity and distribution of freshwater crabs inhabiting the basin of the Rio Grande de Térraba, Pacific slope of Costa Rica, where the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE) plans to implement one of the largest damming projects in the region. Samples were collected in 39 locations at an altitude ranging from 20 to 1,225 m. Sampling was carried out during several months in 2007, 2009 and 2010. We collected a total of 661 crabs, comprising eight species of Pseudothelphusidae of three genera, representing 53% of the 15 pseudothelphusid crab species currently recorded from Costa Rica. The most common species was Ptychophallus paraxanthusi followed by P. tristani. Freshwater crabs were more frequently encountered in the middle-low region of the basin (between 311 and 600 m) and less frequently in the medium-high basin (between 601 and 1,225 m). Ptychophallus paraxanthusi showed the widest distribution and was collected in altitudes ranging from 20 to 700 m. The Rio Grande de Térraba region can be considered as a relatively small, but highly diverse system. Therefore, any alteration of the basin of Rio Grande de Térraba, and especially the possible construction of a hydroelectric power plant, needs to be carefully analyzed to mitigate the damaging effects of this project on the freshwater crabs. More ecological information about freshwater crabs from Costa Rica and the Central American region are needed to reach a first reasonable overview on the ecological role of these decapods in freshwater systems.
Author: Luis Rólier Lara, Ingo S. Wehrtmann, Célio Magalhães & Fernando L. Mantelatto

© 2015 Latin American Journal of Aquatic Research