ABSTRACT

A large brachyuran, the blue land crab (Cardisoma guanhumiLatreille, 1825) is a keystone species and a prolific burrower in a variety of low-latitude supratidal habitats; however, few studies have addressed its ichnological aspects. Here we present a detailed morphological assessment of C. guanhumi burrows and make comparisons to Macanopsis plataniformis, a trace fossil thought to be constructed by a similar brachyuran. Using nine burrow casts from a mangrove wetland on San Salvador Island, Bahamas, 29 dimensionless morphometric parameters were compared. Results of Bray-Curtis tests show high overall similarity index (0.85) between casts, with complexity, tortuosity, and opening inclination angle having moderate to high similarity (> 0.8). End chamber angle of the blue land crab has highest similarity both within the modern morphometric parameter dataset (> 0.9) and to that of M. plataniformis (0.88). The large terminal chamber is particularly important because of its high preservation potential, as a repository for organic remains, and as a reliable water table (∼ sea-level) indicator. Cluster analysis suggests size-independent Macanopsis-resembling burrow morphology among different extant taxa can be discriminated via quantitative neoichnological methods. Our findings demonstrate how a quantitative assessment of modern burrows and their likely counterparts from the sedimentary record can help constrain tracemaker identity and aid paleoenvironmental reconstruction of low-energy microtidal settings.

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