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Sexual dominance in hermit crab shell fights: asymmetries in owner–intruder status, crab size, and resource value between sexes

Abstract

We studied sexual dominance and seasonal differences in aggressiveness of individuals in intraspecific competition for shells of the hermit crab Pagurus filholi in terms of size of contestants and duration of the attempt to deprive other crabs of their shell. Experiments were conducted using paired intrasexual and intersexual contests in the pre-breeding and post-breeding seasons. Size ratios between contestants were systematically varied to assess the sexual difference in size and owner advantages. In both intrasexual and intersexual contests intruder crabs tended to win the contests more often as their size increased, that is, size advantage overcame owner advantage. Although we did not recognize a sexual difference in size and owner advantages in contest outcomes, male intruder crabs took a shorter time to deprive female owners of a shell than to deprive male owners. Furthermore, male individuals in the pre-breeding season had significantly longer fight durations. Fighting is costly. Thus males can afford to expend more energy and time fighting, indicating that males are dominant over females in shell fights as both intruders and owners.

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Yoshino, K., Goshima, S. Sexual dominance in hermit crab shell fights: asymmetries in owner–intruder status, crab size, and resource value between sexes. J Ethol 20, 63–69 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10164-002-0055-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10164-002-0055-x

  • Hermit crab Owner–intruder paradigm Pagurus filholi Resource-holding potential Sex Shell fight