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Temporal and spatial settlement patterns of sympatric hermit crabs and the influence of shell resource availability
Oba, T.; Goshima, S. (2004). Temporal and spatial settlement patterns of sympatric hermit crabs and the influence of shell resource availability. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 144(5): 871-879.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Oba, T.
  • Goshima, S.

    Larvae of marine organisms often need specific resources or environments at settlement, and their success at settlement might be strongly influenced by the abundance and distribution of such specific resources. The larvae of hermit crabs need small shells to settle, so it is thought that the distribution and abundance of small shells influence the settlement pattern of hermit crabs. To investigate the influence of small shell distribution on the settlement of pagurid hermit crab larvae, we conducted a field experiment at an intertidal rocky shore in Hakodate Bay, Japan. From the line-transect sampling in the field, we found that Pagurus middendorffii settled extensively in the offshore side of the intertidal zone while P. nigrofascia settled in the uppermost area of the intertidal zone. Small shells were most abundant in a narrow shallow trough, slightly offshore from the uppermost area of the intertidal zone. For both species, settler abundance was high where adults were abundant, but settler abundance did not appear to be related to shells abundance. An experiment to clarify settlement patterns showed that larval recruits tended to be similar to those in the line-transect sampling of settlers. Thus shells may not be a primary factor affecting settlement patterns at relatively large scale within the intertidal flat. However, when we analyzed the relationship of settlers and shells separately within each transect, the distribution of settlers was well explained by shell resource availability. Therefore on a smaller scale, shell availability may influence the number of settlers. Settlement periods of P. middendorffii and P. nigrofascia fully overlapped, so their larvae probably were affected by similar transport factors, such as current and tidal movement. Nevertheless they showed different spatial patterns of settlement.

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