Chemical attraction of hermit crabs and other attendants to simulated gastropod predation sites
Simulated gastropod predation sites were observed in the gulf intertidal near the Edward Ball Marine Laboratory, Sopchoppy, Florida, Fundulus similis, Callinectes sapidus, Melongena corona, Clibanarius vittatus, and Pagurus longicarpus were attracted to the sites by small molecules released passively from the flesh of wounded or dead animals. Flesh consumers (F. similis, C. sapidus, and M. corona) were attracted to molecules released from the flesh of bivalves, gastropods, and crabs. Shell users (C. vittatus and P. longicarpus) were attracted only to small molecules from gastropod flesh, with P. longicarpus attending P. duplicatas sites while C. vittatus preferentially attended M. corona, Busycon contrarium, and Busycon spiratum sites. Flesh consumers and shell users may be attracted to the sites by different sets of small molecules. The addition of proteolytic enzymes to the flesh increased the attendants at a site, indicating that the attractant molecules might be amino acids or small peptides. Flesh consumers were attracted to the sites primarily in the first 12 hr while the shell users were attracted from 2 hr to several days postinitiation. New shells were attractive to hermit crabs up to 12 hr after entry by a hermit crab. The shell species of the attendant C. vittatus were in different proportions than the general C. vittatus population, and the shell fit of the P. longicarpus attendants was not as good as the general population of P. longicarpus. Significantly more C. vittatus attended than P. longicarpus, and it was speculated that there were more C. vittatus in the area with a poor shell fit than P. longicarpus. © 1980 Plenum Publishing Corporation.
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