Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 103–118 | Cite as

Chemical attraction of hermit crabs and other attendants to simulated gastropod predation sites

  • Dan Rittschof


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, andPagurus 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, andM. corona) were attracted to molecules released from the flesh of bivalves, gastropods, and crabs. Shell users (C. vittatus andP. longicarpus) were attracted only to small molecules from gastropod flesh, withP. longicarpus attendingP. duplicatas sites whileC. vittatus preferentially attendedM. corona, Busycon contrarium, andBusycon 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 attendantC. vittatus were in different proportions than the generalC. vittatus population, and the shell fit of theP. longicarpus attendants was not as good as the general population ofP. longicarpus. Significantly moreC. vittatus attended than P. longicarpus, and it was speculated that there were moreC. vittatus in the area with a poor shell fit thanP. longicarpus.

Key words

Chemical signals hermit crabs gastropod predation sites Fundulus similis Callinectes sapidus Melongena corona Clibanarius vittatus Pagurus longicarpus P. duplicatus Busycon contrarium B. spiratum 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dan Rittschof
    • 1
  1. 1.Biochemistry DepartmentUniversity of CaliforniaRiverside

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