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Book Chapter


Virginia Institute of Marine Science


John Kuo, Ronald C. Phillips, Diana I. Walker and Hugh Kirkman

Publication Date


Book Title

Seagrass Biology: Proceedings of an International Workshop


Faculty of Sciences, The University of Western Australia


Seagrasses are generally presumed to provide important habitats for numerous species of vertebrates and invertebrates, serving as a nursery, structure for attachment, or foraging area. However, few species appear directly dependent on seagrass, one notable exception being the bay scallop, Argopecten irradians Lamarck. Research in Chesapeake Bay on the abundant, and commercially exploitable blue crab, Callinectes sapidus Rathbun, over the last decade, focused on the relevance of seagrass habitat for the overall population. Our research has demonstrated: I. higher densities of juvenile blue crabs in seagrass habitats compared to adjacent marsh and unvegetated areas, 2. seagrasses to be an important settlement habitat for recruiting post-larval blue crabs, and 3. mediated predatorprey interactions related to seagrass abundance and increasing crab size. Our current research focuses on the importance of restored areas for blue crab survival and relevance of seagrass habitat baywide in the context of landscape distributional patterns and metapopulation dynamics. Our findings suggest that similar habitats may differentially affect the numerical abundance of juvenile blue crabs. Elucidating the mechanistic reasons for the value of seagrass habitat for blue crabs, one of the last remaining, viable commercial fisheries in Chesapeake Bay, will be crucial in developing strategies for protecting and restoring seagrass habitat in Chesapeake Bay.


Seagrass, habitat, blue crab, Callinectes sapidus, nursery

Utilization of Seagrass Habitat by the Blue Crab, Callinectes sapidus Rathbun, in Chesapeake Bay: A Review