Aerial gas exchange in Australian arid-zone crab, Parathelphusa transversa Von Martens

Abstract

Parathelphusa transversa is a brachyuran crab of the family Potamonidae and is found over much of inland Australia, including arid areas1. Permanent water sources, such as water holes, rivers and dams are avoided and during prolonged dry periods the animals lead a fossorial existence, their air-filled burrows being found in the clay soils of dry swamps and water courses. After heavy rain or flooding they emerge from their burrows to forage in the surface water, leading an amphibious existence. Their mode of life requires the capacity for gas exchange in both air and water and this is associated with structural adaptations of the branchial chamber to form a lung. We describe here the animal's unusual and hitherto undescribed mechanism of tidal ventilation of the lung.

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