05 June 2014

The latest paper from the UTPA REU program

It took 1,017 days for the journal to publish the paper (that’s over two years), but one more paper has finally been published arising from student research supported by the UTPA REU. It’s nice to have one more addition to add to the “Success stories” on REU Bio website.

The lead author, Jessica Murph, is now pursuing a master’s degree in counseling.

Murph JH, Faulkes Z. 2013. Abundance and size of sand crabs, Lepidopa benedicti (Decapoda: Albuneidae), in South Texas. The Southwestern Naturalist 58(4): 431-434. DOI: 10.1894/0038-4909-58.4.431


Albuneid sand crabs are found in sandy beaches around the world, but little is known about the basic biology of any species in the family. We sampled sand crabs, Lepidopa benedicti, for 2 years at South Padre Island, Texas, at two locations: one developed site near the town, where recreational use is high and one undeveloped site away from the town, where recreational use is lower. We hypothesized that sand crabs would be less abundant and smaller at the developed site than at the undeveloped one. Densities were highest in summer and lowest in winter but did not differ between the two sites. There was no difference in size of individuals at the two locations. Females were significantly more common and larger than males. No ovigerous female was discovered at either location over 2 years of sampling. Individuals at South Padre Island are consistently smaller than those recorded from the northern Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean, suggesting the region might have habitat that is low quality for the species.