The effects of shell size and coil orientation on reproduction in female hermit crabs, Clibanarius vittatus
We investigated the effects of shell coil orientation and shell size on reproduction in field populations of the hermit crab, Clibanarius vittatus. Females were collected in the intertidal in Beaufort, NC. Shell parameters were measured and size (cephalothorax length) and reproductive status were determined for 70 females occupying Busycon shells. Crabs were categorized as berried (eggs on the pleopods), mature ovaries, or non-reproductive (no eggs). For berried females, the number of eggs was recorded. By offering a separate group of females access to empty shells, it was possible to calculate optimal shell size and the deficit in shell size for field-collected animals. Females that were berried were in shells closer to the optimal shell size than females with mature ovaries, both for shell weight and shell volume. And females with mature ovaries were in shells that were closer to the optimal size than females that were non-reproductive. For both categories of females without eggs on the pleopods, the majority of females were in shells that were too big (in weight and internal volume). While the percentage of berried females did not differ between dextral (Busycon carica) and sinistral (Busycon sinistrum) shells, the non-reproductive females had a much smaller deficit in volume in sinistral shells compared to dextral shells. For berried females, there was no relationship between the magnitude of their shell deficit and the number of eggs carried. Our results suggest that reproduction is inhibited when females occupy shells sufficiently greater than the optimal shell size. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Hazlett, BA; Rittschof, D; Bach, CE
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