The importance of color in mate choice of the blue crab Callinectes sapidus.
Visual displays often play a large role in animal communication, particularly in sexual interactions. The blue crab Callinectes sapidus is both colorful and highly visually responsive, yet almost all studies of their courtship have focused on chemical cues. In the blue crab's underwater environment, however, visual cues may function more rapidly and over a longer distance than chemical cues. Given that blue crabs are aggressive and cannibalistic, visual cues may therefore allow blue crabs to quickly evaluate potential mates from safer distances. In the present study we show that courtship and mate choice behavior in C. sapidus can be stimulated by visual cues alone. Further, we show that males have a preference for females with red claw dactyls. In binary choice experiments, males displayed more often to photographs of females with red claws than to those with white claws or to those with black claws that were isoluminant to the red ones. This strongly suggests that male blue crabs made their choices based on the hue of the red claws, further suggesting that blue crabs are capable of color vision and use color in mate choice.
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