Marine Biology

, Volume 160, Issue 4, pp 1001–1013 | Cite as

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

  • Agustina di Virgilio
  • Pablo D. Ribeiro
Original Paper


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.


Feeding Activity Carapace Width Fiddler Crab Feeding Area Emergence Angle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was partially supported by a grant from Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica to P.D.R (PICT 2007-01488). We thank Juan Manuel Morales for helping in statistical analysis.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratorio Ecotono, INIBIOMA-CONICETUniversidad Nacional del ComahueSan Carlos de BarilocheArgentina
  2. 2.Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras (IIMyC)CONICET-Universidad Nacional de Mar del PlataMar del PlataArgentina
  3. 3.Grupo de Investigación y Educación en Temas Ambientales (GrIETA)Mar del PlataArgentina

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