Rapid assessment of anthropogenic impacts on exposed sandy beaches in Ghana using ghost crabs (Ocypode spp.) as ecological indicators
We applied a rapid assessment methodology to estimate the degree of human impact on exposed sandy beaches in Ghana using ghost crabs as ecological indicators. The use of ghost crab burrow density and size ranges of the burrows as ecological indicators to assess extent of anthropogenic impacts on beaches was explored in this study. For each site, three transects were laid perpendicular to the shoreline over a 100 meter distance at 50 m intervals, i.e., at reference points 0, 50 and 100 meter points. Sampling locations were randomly selected along the three transects using a 1 m x 1 m quadrat. Measurements were done twice weekly for a period of four weeks. The results showed that even though the moderately disturbed beach had higher burrow density than the disturbed beach on the average, the difference is not statistically significant (t-test; p > 0.01). However, the mean burrow diameter at the moderately disturbed site was significantly larger than for the disturbed site (t-test; p < 0.01). We conclude that ghost crab burrow sizes is a better estimator of human impacts on exposed sandy beaches and could be employed as a rapid tool for monitoring the quality of beaches.