Diversity, biology and exploitation of brackish water crabs in West Africa: A review
Crabs are an important biological component of the West African lagoon fauna and are exploited by fishing communities. This paper presents a synthesis of the current understanding pertaining to the diversity, biology and exploitation of these crabs in order to identify promising research paths for this zoological group. A literature review was done. Thirty-two species belonging to thirteen families and twenty-three genera have been indexed by previous investigators and we plan on making use of this information in defining future research direction. The biology of crabs has been the subject of much research focused on Callinectes amnicola (Rochebrune, 1883) species. C. amnicola is an omnivorous species whose males are known to mature between 63 and 105 mm shell width, while females mature between 83.5 and 116.2 mm shell width. Fertility varies from 0.47 to 4.8 million eggs per female. However, exploitation parameters for this species in various lagoons are not available. A research direction geared towards establishing a new and thorough inventory along with currently nonexistent but relevant exploitation parameters will go a long way in defining sustainable management measures for these crab species.
Keywords: Lagoon crabs, diversity, biology and exploitation, West Africa.