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The effect of food availability on the semilunar courtship rhythm in the fiddler crab Uca lactea (de Haan) (Brachyura: Ocypodidae)

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An Erratum to this article was published on 02 September 2003

Abstract

Semilunar or lunar reproductive rhythms that follow tidal cycles are common in marine animals. For brachyuran crabs, an adaptive explanation for the synchronous release of larvae in phase with the tidal cycle is that females release larvae when their offspring are best able to escape predators. As a corollary to this hypothesis, the synchronous male reproductive cycle is selected to be in phase with female receptivity. As an alternative hypothesis, we propose that variation in food abundance influences the onset and intensity of the semilunar courtship cycle. We tested this hypothesis in male fiddler crabs (Uca lactea) by experimentally manipulating food availability for 4 weeks. Food-supplemented males built more semidomes and waved for more days than did food-deprived males or untreated control males. Moreover, food-supplemented males began courtship earlier and the median courtship day advanced with an increase in food. Courtship intensity was not related to crab size. These results provide the first evidence in marine animals that changes in food abundance due to the tides, and hence in phase with the semilunar cycle, influence male reproductive rhythm.

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Acknowledgements

We are very grateful to John H. Christy at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Minoru Murai at the University of Rukyus for their comments on the manuscript. Tsunenori Koga at Wakayama University and Robert B. Srygley improved the manuscript with valuable discussions. We also thank three anonymous referees for their comments. Many thanks to Bernabe Assogba, Ho Young Suk, Kilwon Kim, Joonghwan Jeon, Youna Hwang, Sanha Kim and other members of the Laboratory of Behavior and Ecology of Seoul National University for their discussions. Seunghyo Hong, Sejin Kim, Dukgun Kim and Hyunju Jang assisted the field works. This study was supported by the Brain Korea 21 Research Fellowship from the Korean Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development.

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Correspondence to Jae C. Choe.

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Communicated by T. Czeschlik

An erratum to this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00265-003-0687-z.

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Kim, T.W., Choe, J.C. The effect of food availability on the semilunar courtship rhythm in the fiddler crab Uca lactea (de Haan) (Brachyura: Ocypodidae). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 54, 210–217 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-003-0614-3

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