MarLIN

information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Long clawed porcelain crab (Pisidia longicornis)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.

Summary

Description

A small crab less than 10 mm across the carapace. It is reddish-orange in colour, frequently with patches of pearly white on the carapace or sometimes all of the carapace is white. Long claws and with only three pairs of walking legs apparent and a tiny fifth pair of appendages often concealed.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Present all around Britain and Ireland.

Global distribution

Present in the north-east Atlantic from Norway to Angola, west Africa and the whole of the Mediterranean.

Habitat

Present under boulders in the intertidal and common in the circalittoral especially in bryozoan turf.

Depth range

intertidal to depth unknown

Identifying features

  • Carapace less than 10 mm across.
  • Carapace suboval in shape and sparsely setose at most.
  • Chelae long and cylindrical.
  • Three pairs of walking legs.
  • Fifth pair of pereiopods very small and usually concealed.

Additional information

-none-

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

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Biology review

Taxonomy

PhylumArthropoda
ClassMalacostraca
OrderDecapoda
FamilyPorcellanidae
GenusPisidia
Authority(Linnaeus, 1767)
Recent SynonymsPorcellana longicornis (Linnaeus, 1767)

Biology

Typical abundanceModerate density
Male size range<10mm
Male size at maturity
Female size range3mm
Female size at maturity
Growth formArticulate
Growth rateData deficient
Body flexibility
Mobility
Characteristic feeding methodScavenger
Diet/food source
Typically feeds on
Sociability
Environmental positionEpifaunal
DependencyIndependent.
SupportsNone
Is the species harmful?No information

Biology information

Pisidia longicornis is the most numerically abundant decapod crustacean in sublittoral areas. It occurs in densities of up to 640 /m² (Robinson & Tully, 2000a). Smaldon (1972) suggests that it "may survive to breed for a second or third season" suggesting a lifespan of up to three years.

Habitat preferences

Physiographic preferencesOpen coast, Strait / sound, Sea loch / Sea lough, Ria / Voe
Biological zone preferencesLower circalittoral, Lower eulittoral, Lower infralittoral, Mid eulittoral, Sublittoral fringe, Upper circalittoral, Upper infralittoral
Substratum / habitat preferencesLarge to very large boulders, Small boulders
Tidal strength preferencesModerately Strong 1 to 3 knots (0.5-1.5 m/sec.), Strong 3 to 6 knots (1.5-3 m/sec.), Very Strong > 6 knots (>3 m/sec.)
Wave exposure preferencesExposed, Moderately exposed, Sheltered, Very sheltered
Salinity preferencesFull (30-40 psu)
Depth rangeintertidal to depth unknown
Other preferences
Migration PatternNon-migratory / resident

Habitat Information

No text entered

Life history

Adult characteristics

Reproductive typeGonochoristic (dioecious)
Reproductive frequency Annual episodic
Fecundity (number of eggs)100-1,000
Generation timeInsufficient information
Age at maturityInsufficient information
SeasonMarch - September
Life span2-3 years

Larval characteristics

Larval/propagule type-
Larval/juvenile development Planktotrophic
Duration of larval stage1-2 months
Larval dispersal potential Greater than 10 km
Larval settlement periodInsufficient information

Life history information

Ingle (1997) indicates that eggs are present from March to August in southern England and from February to September in the Mediterranean.

Sensitivity reviewHow is sensitivity assessed?

Physical pressures

 IntoleranceRecoverabilitySensitivityEvidence/Confidence
Intermediate High Low Moderate
Pisidia longicornis occurs on a variety of substrata especially in the subtidal. Although at least some individuals will be destroyed by the removal of substratum, displaced individuals are likely to find alternative homes. The crabs are mobile and have a planktonic larva so that recolonization/recovery is likely to be fairly rapid.
Low High Low Moderate
Pisidia longicornis, being mobile, may escape from smothering events but siltation may remove suitable habitats by clogging underboulders and undergrowth. The crabs are mobile and have a planktonic larva so that recolonization/recovery is likely to be fairly rapid.
Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive Moderate
Pisidia longicornis most likely feeds as a scavenger and active carnivore so that increase in levels of suspended sediment are unlikely to affect it. However, settlement of suspended silt is addressed in 'Smothering'.
Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive Moderate
Pisidia longicornis most likely feeds as a scavenger and active carnivore so that decrease in levels of suspended sediment are unlikely to affect it.
High High Moderate Moderate
Pisidia longicornis lives in habitats that are protected from desiccation and would most likely, because of its mobility, be able to escape desiccation situations such as boulder turning. However, if exposure to air occurs, desiccation effects are likely to be severe. The crabs are mobile and have a planktonic larva so that recolonization/recovery is likely to be fairly rapid.
Low Very high Very Low Moderate
Pisidia longicornis lives in shaded damp habitats on the mid to lower shore. If emergence regime changes so that crabs are exposed for longer to dry conditions, the vertical extent of habitat suitable for the crab is likely to be reduced although individual crabs will survive by moving further downshore. The crabs are mobile and have a planktonic larva so that recolonization/recovery is likely to be fairly rapid.
Tolerant* Not relevant Not sensitive* High
Pisidia longicornis is a species that lives in damp places and fully submerged habitats so that decrease in emergence will favour the species.
Low High Low Moderate
Pisidia longicornis lives in habitats where water flow rate may be from very strong to weak. However, as a cryptic species protected by bryozoan turf, kelp holdfasts etc in the sublittoral, it is unlikely to be affected by 'wash out' which might however occur from under boulders. The crabs are mobile and have a planktonic larva so that recolonization/recovery is likely to be fairly rapid.
Intermediate High Low Moderate
The communities in which Pisidia longicornis live are particularly well developed in areas subject to strong tidal flow or strong wave action. In the absence of strong wave action, decrease in water flow rate will lead to siltation of habitats and reduction of the bryozoan turf that Pisidia longicornis favours. A decline in abundance would therefore be expected. The crabs are mobile and have a planktonic larva so that recolonization/recovery is likely to be fairly rapid.
Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive Moderate
Pisidia longicornis occurs in a wide range of temperature regimes from Norway to Angola and it is not therefore expected that crabs would be adversely affected by increase in temperature at the level of the benchmark.
Intermediate High Low High
Long-clawed porcelain crabs were adversely affected by the 1962-63 winter in Britain. Crisp (1964) records that many hundreds were found dead on the strandline at Oxwich, south Wales. In other locations, they were not found on the shore (although could have migrated offshore). Overall, it seems that some mortality is likely and an intolerance of Intermediate is suggested. The crabs are mobile and have a planktonic larva so that recolonization/recovery is likely to be fairly rapid.
Low High Low Moderate
Pisidia longicornis is a scavenger and is only likely to be adversely affected by increased turbidity through visual impairment. The crabs are mobile and have a planktonic larva so that recolonization/recovery is likely to be fairly rapid.
Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive Moderate
Pisidia longicornis is a scavenger and is unlikely to be adversely affected by decreased turbidity.
Intermediate High Low Moderate
Pisidia longicornis lives in locations where it could be displaced by strong water movement. The crabs are mobile and have a planktonic larva so that recolonization/recovery is likely to be fairly rapid.
Intermediate High Low Moderate
Pisidia longicornis lives underboulders, in kelps holdfasts and amongst bryozoan turfs especially. A decrease in wave exposure may allow silt to settle thus removing suitable habitats by clogging underboulders and undergrowth. The crabs are mobile and have a planktonic larva so that recolonization/recovery is likely to be fairly rapid.
Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive Moderate
Pisidia longicornis is unlikely to react to noise as it has no appropriate organs. It will most likely react to vibrations resulting from noise but is probably tolerant at the benchmark level.
Low Immediate Not sensitive Moderate
Crabs scuttle away when boulders are overturned - most likely as a response to increased light levels but also, since they have eyes, visual presence. The crabs are mobile so that recolonization/recovery is likely to be very rapid.
High High Moderate Moderate
The crabs are easily crushed by abrasion by mobile cobbles and larger substrata or by mooring chains. The crabs are mobile and have a planktonic larva so that recolonization/recovery is likely to be fairly rapid.
Low Very high Very Low High
Displacement is unlikely to adversely affect Pisidia longicornis unless it is trapped in a new unsuitable location. The species can move to a suitable area.

Chemical pressures

 IntoleranceRecoverabilitySensitivityEvidence/Confidence
Intermediate High Low Very low
No information has been found specifically on Pisidia longicornis but crustaceans in general are fairly tolerant. Bryan & Gibbs (1991) report that crabs appear to be relatively resistant to TBT although some deformity of regenerated limbs has been observed. In the early 1960's in Washington, experimental application of a broad range of pesticides was tested for use on shrimp-infested oyster grounds identified carbaryl (1-napthol n-methyl carbamate; sold under the trade name Sevin) to be an effective method to control burrowing shrimp (Feldman et al., 2000). Carbaryl, a non-persistent organocarbamate pesticide that is extremely toxic to arthropods, was applied at 9kg/ha to remove shrimps from oyster grounds. In view of the equivocal results from different studies and with different chemicals, an intolerance of intermediate is suggested with a very low confidence. The crabs are mobile and have a planktonic larva so that recolonization/recovery is likely to be fairly rapid.
Heavy metal contamination
Intermediate High Low Low
No information has been found specifically on Pisidia longicornis but crustaceans in general are fairly tolerant. Crompton (1997) reports that the concentrations above which mortality of crustaceans can occur is 0.01-0.1mg/l for mercury, copper and cadmium, 0.1-1mg/l for zinc, arsenic and nickel and 1-10mg/l for lead and chromium. Crustaceans are generally regarded as being more intolerant of cadmium than other groups (McLusky, 1986).The crabs are mobile and have a planktonic larva so that recolonization/recovery is likely to be fairly rapid.
Hydrocarbon contamination
Intermediate High Low Low
No information has been found specifically on Pisidia longicornis but crustaceans in general are fairly tolerant. The crabs are mobile and have a planktonic larva so that recolonization/recovery is likely to be fairly rapid.
Radionuclide contamination
Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive High
No information has been found for radionuclides adversely affecting crustaceans.
Changes in nutrient levels
Tolerant Not relevant Not sensitive Moderate
No information has been found for nutrients adversely affecting crustaceans.
Intermediate High Low Moderate
Long-clawed porcelain crabs are apparently not recorded in low salinity conditions but do occur in the lower reaches of estuaries suggesting that they require full or variable salinity. Mortality may therefore occur in events where salinity falls significantly. The crabs are mobile and have a planktonic larva so that recolonization/recovery is likely to be fairly rapid.
High High Moderate Moderate
Long-clawed porcelain crabs are apparently not recorded in low salinity conditions but do occur in the lower reaches of estuaries suggesting that they require full or variable salinity. A reduction in salinity, especially if it occurs in already estuarine conditions, is likely therefore to have a significant adverse effect. The crabs are mobile and have a planktonic larva so that recolonization/recovery is likely to be fairly rapid.
Intermediate High Low Low
The crabs live in areas which are well oxygenated so that decrease in oxygen levels below ambient may be adverse. The crabs are mobile and have a planktonic larva so that recolonization/recovery is likely to be fairly rapid.

Biological pressures

 IntoleranceRecoverabilitySensitivityEvidence/Confidence
No information No information No information Moderate
Insufficient
information
No information Not relevant No information Not relevant
Insufficient
information
High High Moderate Moderate
Extraction of this species is not known to occur. The crabs are mobile and have a planktonic larva so that recolonization/recovery is likely to be fairly rapid.
No information Not relevant No information Not relevant
Insufficient
information

Additional information

No text entered

Importance review

Policy/legislation

- no data -

Status

Non-native

Importance information

Psidia longicornis is considered to be the most abundant decapod crustacean on sublittoral rocky surfaces. However, it is small and, as a scavenger, is not greatly important in functioning of a community.

Bibliography

  1. Bryan, G.W. & Gibbs, P.E., 1991. Impact of low concentrations of tributyltin (TBT) on marine organisms: a review. In: Metal ecotoxicology: concepts and applications (ed. M.C. Newman & A.W. McIntosh), pp. 323-361. Boston: Lewis Publishers Inc.

  2. Crisp, D.J. (ed.), 1964. The effects of the severe winter of 1962-63 on marine life in Britain. Journal of Animal Ecology, 33, 165-210.

  3. Crompton, T.R., 1997. Toxicants in the aqueous ecosystem. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

  4. Crothers, J. & Crothers, M., 1988. A key to the crabs and crab-like animals of British inshore waters. Somerset, England: Field Studies Council. [AIDGAP guide, no. 155.]

  5. Feldman, K.L., Armstrong, D.A., Dumbauld, B.R., DeWitt, T.H. & Doty, D.C., 2000. Oysters, crabs, and burrowing shrimp: review of an environmental conflict over aquatic resources and pesticide use in Washington State's (USA) coastal estuaries. Estuaries, 23, 141-176.

  6. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  7. Ingle, R., 1997. Crayfishes, lobsters and crabs of Europe. An illustrated guide to common and traded species. London: Chapman and Hall.

  8. Lindley, J.A., 1987. Continuous plankton records: the geographical distribution and seasonal cycles of decapod crustacean larvae and pelagic post-larvae in the north-eastern Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 67, 145-167.

  9. McLusky, D.S., Bryant, V. & Campbell, R., 1986. The effects of temperature and salinity on the toxicity of heavy metals to marine and estuarine invertebrates. Oceanography and Marine Biology: an Annual Review, 24, 481-520.

  10. Robinson, M. & Tully, O., 2000. Dynamics of a subtidal population of the porcellanid crab Pisidia longicornis (Decapoda: Crustacea). Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 80, 75-83.

  11. Robinson, M. & Tully, O., 2000. Seasonal variation in community structure and recruitment of benthic decapods in a sub-tidal cobble habitat. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 206, 181-191.

  12. Smaldon, G., 1972. Population structure and breeding biology of Pisidia longicornis and Porcellana platycheles. Marine Biology, 17, 171-179.

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Hiscock, K. 2008. Pisidia longicornis Long clawed porcelain crab. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available from: http://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/1362

Last Updated: 03/06/2008