Marine Biology

, Volume 79, Issue 2, pp 145–150 | Cite as

Predaceous gastropods regulate new-shell supply to salt marsh hermit crabs

  • T. Payson WilberJr.
  • W. F. Herrnkind


Marsh hermit crabsPagurus longicarpus Say directly acquire new shells as the predatory gastropodMelongena corona Gmelin consumes marsh periwinkles,Littorina irrorata Say. The influx rate of new shells into a salt marsh hermit crab population was measured by marking live periwinkles and daily recovering the shells from hermit crabs over periods of 3 to 6 d. Average rates of new shell acquisition ranged from 4.0 to 23.3 new shells per day from salt marsh areas of 4×10 m. Such consistently high rates contrast with the negligible rates generally assumed for new shell entry into hermit crab populations. The number of new shells acquired each day varied directly with the number of the predatory gastropod,M. corona, present in each study area at both natural and manipulated predator densities. Empty shells on the substrate are usually considered as the primary source of new shells to hermit crabs. However, over 500 empty shells had to be placed on the substrate in a 4×10 m area to provide a daily rate of 20 new shells to the hermit crab population.


Average Rate Primary Source Daily Rate Influx Rate Hermit Crab 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Payson WilberJr.
    • 1
  • W. F. Herrnkind
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological ScienceFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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