, Volume 160, Issue 4, pp 1001-1013

Spatial and temporal patterns in the feeding behavior of a fiddler crab

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Abstract

Fiddler crabs consume the surficial microphytobenthos around their burrows during low tide. We studied the spatial and temporal feeding patterns in the species Uca uruguayensis by using sequences of digital pictures of feeding pellets accumulation. Data from 61 crabs, feeding without the interference of neighbors, were fitted to different models using Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian approaches. Initial feeding location was independent from the emergence location, and then, crabs continued holding a main feeding direction (clockwise or counterclockwise), suggesting a systematic mechanism that may avoid feeding over already processed sediment. Crabs used at least half of their potential feeding area, but these areas were heterogeneous. Both sexes developed similar feeding areas; however, females were faster and needed less time to feed than males, suggesting that males are time restricted. Our work also highlights the importance of incorporating other underlying mechanisms of the behavior of species into the study of feeding strategies.

Communicated by M. G. Chapman.