Skip to main content
Log in

Courtship interference by neighboring males potentially prevents pairing in fiddler crab Austruca lactea

  • Original Article
  • Published:
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Courtship interference occurs when dominant males hinder female assessment of prospective males during female mate choice, leading to a more complex distribution of mating success. In this study, we describe and evaluate courtship interference in underground mating of the fiddler crab Austruca lactea. When a mate-searching female enters the burrow of a courting male, neighboring males frequently interfere in the female-male interaction. We thus identified mate-searching females and observed their interactions until pairing. The duration until females’ final decision for pairing increased with the number of interferences by neighboring males. The females reappeared more frequently from the burrow of the finally selected male when neighboring males interfered. These results suggest that courtship interference by neighboring males delays pairing between the mate-searching female and the finally selected male in this species. The number of interferences by neighboring males increased with female size, implying that large females with high fecundity potential induce interference by neighboring males. Moreover, in approximately half of the cases in which interference occurred at the burrow of the immediate last male before the finally selected male, the finally selected male was the interfering one. The distribution of mating success was therefore biased toward males that combined attractiveness (according to female preference) and dominance (which is associated with courtship interference) in this species.

Significance statement

Courtship interference is a type of male-male competition and it may hamper female mate choice. In Austruca lactea, neighboring males often interfere in the interaction between a courting male and a mate-searching female. We demonstrated the effect of courtship interference by neighboring males in these interactions. The interferences prolonged the duration of female decision-making for pairing and temporarily expelled the female from the burrow of the finally selected male. These results imply that these interferences may potentially prevent pairing. Moreover, the finally selected males had often succeeded in interfering in the courtship interaction between the female and another male. Therefore, males with high mating success were not only attractive to the females of this species but also dominant in courtship interference.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Aicher B, Tautz J (1990) Vibrational communication in the fiddler crab, Uca pugilator. J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol 166:345–353

    Google Scholar 

  • Andersson MB (1994) Sexual selection. Princeton University Press, Princeton

    Google Scholar 

  • Aoki M, Watanabe Y, Imai H, Kamada M, Wada K (2010) Interpopulation variations in life history traits in the fiddler crab Uca arcuata. J Crustac Biol 30:607–614

    Google Scholar 

  • Backwell PRY, Passmore NI (1996) Time constraints and multiple choice criteria in the sampling behaviour and mate choice of the fiddler crab, Uca annulipes. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 38:407–416

    Google Scholar 

  • Baxter C, Mentlik J, Shams I, Dukas R (2018) Mating success in fruit flies: courtship interference versus female choice. Anim Behav 138:101–108

    Google Scholar 

  • Bonduriansky R (2001) The evolution of male mate choice in insects: a synthesis of ideas and evidence. Biol Rev 76:305–339

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Booksmythe I, Jennions MD, Backwell PRY (2011) Male fiddler crabs prefer conspecific females during simultaneous, but not sequential, mate choice. Anim Behav 81:775–778

    Google Scholar 

  • Callander S, Jennions MD, Backwell PRY (2012) The effect of claw size and wave rate on female choice in a fiddler crab. J Ethol 30:151–155

    Google Scholar 

  • Christy JH (1983) Female choice in the resource-defense mating system of the sand fiddler crab, Uca pugilator. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 12:169–180

    Google Scholar 

  • Christy JH (1995) Mimicry, mate choice, and the sensory trap hypothesis. Am Nat 146:171–181

    Google Scholar 

  • Cooley JR, Marshall DC (2001) Sexual signaling in periodical cicadas, Magicicada spp. (Hemiptera: Cicadidae). Behaviour 138:827–855

    Google Scholar 

  • Crane J (1975) Fiddler crabs of the world: Ocypodidae: genus Uca. Princeton University Press, Princeton

    Google Scholar 

  • Dennenmoser S, Christy JH (2013) The design of a beautiful weapon: compensation for opposing sexual selection on a trait with two functions. Evolution 67:1181–1188

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • deRivera CE (2005) Long searches for male-defended breeding burrows allow female fiddler crabs, Uca crenulata, to release larvae on time. Anim Behav 70:289–297

    Google Scholar 

  • Edward DA, Chapman T (2011) The evolution and significance of male mate choice. Trends Ecol Evol 26:647–654

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Fisher HS, Swaisgood R, Fitch-Snyder H (2003) Countermarking by male pygmy lorises (Nycticebus pygmaeus): do females use odor cues to select mates with high competitive ability? Behav Ecol Sociobiol 53:123–130

    Google Scholar 

  • Goshima S, Murai M (1988) Mating investment of male fiddler crabs, Uca lactea. Anim Behav 36:1249–1251

    Google Scholar 

  • Goshima S, Koga T, Murai M (1996) Mate acceptance and guarding by male fiddler crabs Uca tetragonon (Herbst). J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 196:131–143

    Google Scholar 

  • Greenspan BN (1980) Male size and reproductive success in the communal courtship system of the fiddler crab Uca rapax. Anim Behav 28:387–392

    Google Scholar 

  • Härdling R, Kokko H (2005) The evolution of prudent choice. Evol Ecol Res 7:697–715

    Google Scholar 

  • Howard RD, Moorman RS, Whiteman HH (1997) Differential effects of mate competition and mate choice on eastern tiger salamanders. Anim Behav 53:1345–1356

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hunt J, Breuker CJ, Sadowski JA, Moore AJ (2009) Male–male competition, female mate choice and their interaction: determining total sexual selection. J Evol Biol 22:13–26

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Jennions MD, Backwell PRY (1996) Residency and size affect fight duration and outcome in the fiddler crab Uca annulipes. Biol J Linn Soc 57:293–306

    Google Scholar 

  • Kangas N, Lindström K (2001) Male interactions and female mate choice in the sand goby, Pomatoschistus minutus. Anim Behav 61:425–430

    Google Scholar 

  • Mennill DJ, Ratcliffe LM, Boag PT (2002) Female eavesdropping on male song contests in songbirds. Science 296:873–873

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Morrell LJ, Backwell PRY, Metcalfe NB (2005) Fighting in fiddler crabs Uca mjoebergi: what determines duration? Anim Behav 70:653–662

    Google Scholar 

  • Mowles SL, Jennions MD, Backwell PRY (2017) Multimodal communication in courting fiddler crabs reveals male performance capacities. R Soc Open Sci 4:161093

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Murai M, Backwell PRY (2006) A conspicuous courtship signal in the fiddler crab Uca perplexa: female choice based on display structure. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 60:736–741

    Google Scholar 

  • Murai M, Goshima S, Henmi Y (1987) Analysis of the mating system of the fiddler crab, Uca lactea. Anim Behav 35:1334–1342

    Google Scholar 

  • Muramatsu D, Koga T (2016) Fighting with an unreliable weapon: opponent choice and risk avoidance in fiddler crab contests. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 70:713–724

    Google Scholar 

  • Nieri R, Mazzoni V, Gordon SD, Krugner R (2017) Mating behavior and vibrational mimicry in the glassy-winged sharpshooter, Homalodisca vitripennis. J Pest Sci 90:887–899

    Google Scholar 

  • Ohata M, Wada K (2008) Is barricade building behavior linked to pair formation in the dotillid crab Ilyoplax pusilla? Crust Res 37:63–66

    Google Scholar 

  • Otter K, McGregor PK, Terry AM, Burford FR, Peake TM, Dabelsteen T (1999) Do female great tits (Parus major) assess males by eavesdropping? A field study using interactive song playback. Proc R Soc Lond B 266:1305–1309

    Google Scholar 

  • Pope DS (2005) Waving in a crowd: fiddler crabs signal in networks. In: McGregor PK (ed) Animal communication networks. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 252–276

    Google Scholar 

  • Pratt AE, McLain DK, Lathrop GR (2003) The assessment game in sand fiddler crab contests for breeding burrows. Anim Behav 65:945–955

    Google Scholar 

  • Qvarnström A, Forsgren E (1998) Should females prefer dominant males? Trends Ecol Evol 13:498–501

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • R Core Team (2018) A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. URL https://www.R-project.org/

  • Reading KL, Backwell PRY (2007) Can beggars be choosers? Male mate choice in a fiddler crab. Anim Behav 74:867–872

    Google Scholar 

  • Real L (1990) Search theory and mate choice. I. Models of single-sex discrimination. Am Nat 136:376–405

    Google Scholar 

  • Reaney LT (2009) Female preference for male phenotypic traits in a fiddler crab: do females use absolute or comparative evaluation? Anim Behav 77:139–143

    Google Scholar 

  • Reaney LT, Backwell PRY (2007) Temporal constraints and female preference for burrow width in the fiddler crab, Uca mjoebergi. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 61:1515–1521

    Google Scholar 

  • Reaney LT, Maurer G, Backwell PRY, Linde CC (2012) Paternity analysis of two male mating tactics in the fiddler crab, Uca mjoebergi. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 66:1017–1024

    Google Scholar 

  • Sæther SA, Fiske P, Kålås JA (1999) Pushy males and choosy females: courtship disruption and mate choice in the lekking great snipe. Proc R Soc Lond B 266:1227–1234

    Google Scholar 

  • Salmon M, Atsaides SP (1968) Visual and acoustical signalling during courtship by fiddler crabs (genus Uca). Am Zool 8:623–639

    Google Scholar 

  • Salmon M, Horch KW (1972) Acoustic signalling and detection by semiterrestrial crabs of the family Ocypodidae. In: Winn HE, Olla BL (eds) Behavior of marine animals, current perspective in research volume 1: invertebrates. Plenum Press, New York, pp 60–96

    Google Scholar 

  • Sanches FHC, Costa TM, Barreto RE, Backwell PRY (2017) Faster male displays and less complex choice are more attractive to female fiddler crabs as they reduce search costs. Anim Behav 124:119–123

    Google Scholar 

  • Severinghaus LL, Lin HC (1990) The reproductive behaviour and mate choice of the fiddler crab (Uca lactea lactea) in mid-Taiwan. Behaviour 113:292–307

    Google Scholar 

  • Sparreboom M (1996) Sexual Interference in the Sword-tailed Newt, Cynops ensicauda popei (Amphibia: Salamandridae). Ethology 102:672–685

    Google Scholar 

  • Takeshita F (2019) Color changes of fiddler crab between seasons and under stressful conditions: patterns of changes in lightness differ between carapace and claw. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 511:113–119

    Google Scholar 

  • Takeshita F, Murai M (2016) The vibrational signals that male fiddler crabs (Uca lactea) use to attract females into their burrows. Sci Nat 103:49

    Google Scholar 

  • Takeshita F, Murai M, Matsumasa M, Henmi Y (2018) Multimodal signaling in fiddler crab: waving to attract mates is condition-dependent but other sexual signals are not. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 72:140

    Google Scholar 

  • Trail PW (1985) Courtship disruption modifies mate choice in a lek-breeding bird. Science 227:778–780

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Wada K (1984) Barricade building in Ilyoplax pusillus (De Haan)(Crustacea: Brachyura). J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 83:73–88

    Google Scholar 

  • Wada K (1987) Neighbor burrow-plugging in Ilyoplax pusillus (Crustacea: Brachyura: Ocypodidae). Mar Biol 95:299–303

    Google Scholar 

  • Wada S, Arashiro Y, Takeshita F, Shibata Y (2011) Male mate choice in hermit crabs: prudence by inferior males and simple preference by superior males. Behav Ecol 22:114–119

    Google Scholar 

  • Webster MS, Robinson SK (1999) Courtship disruptions and male mating strategies: examples from female-defense mating systems. Am Nat 154:717–729

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Wong BBM (2004) Male competition is disruptive to courtship in the Pacific blue-eye. J Fish Biol 65:333–341

    Google Scholar 

  • Wong BBM, Candolin U (2005) How is female mate choice affected by male competition? Biol Rev 80:559–571

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Yamaguchi T (1971) Courtship behavior of a fiddler crab, Uca lactea. Kumamoto J Sci Biol 10:13–37

    Google Scholar 

  • Yamaguchi T (2003) Seasonal changes in the energy content of females of the fiddler crab, Uca lactea, especially during the reproductive period. Crustaceana 76:1371–1397

    Google Scholar 

  • Yamaguchi T, Tabata S (2004) Territory usage and defence of the fiddler crab, Uca lactea (De Haan)(Decapoda, Brachyura, Ocypodidae). Crustaceana 77:1055–1080

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

We thank Prof. Yasuhisa Henmi and members of Aitsu Marine Station, Kumamoto University, for the valuable discussion.

Funding

This study was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Numbers 15K18613 and 19K06857 to FT.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Fumio Takeshita.

Additional information

Communicated by T. Breithaupt

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Electronic supplementary material

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Takeshita, F., Murai, M. Courtship interference by neighboring males potentially prevents pairing in fiddler crab Austruca lactea. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 73, 164 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-019-2774-9

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-019-2774-9

Keywords

Navigation