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Mate choice by males of the hermit crab Pagurus filholi: Do males assess ripeness and/or fecundity of females?

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Ecological Research

Males of the hermit crab, Pagurusfilholi, often grasp the edges of shells occupied by females and drag them during the mating season. This behavior was experimentally confirmed to be a precopulatory guarding behavior displayed by males for ripe females, and males were found to recognize females which were within about 5 days of spawning. Most theoretical models for mating preference assume the choosing sex (the male in the present case) has complete reproductive information about potential mates, and predict that males will preferably choose more fecund females and/or females that will require less guarding time (i.e. that will spawn sooner) as partners. Several male-choice experiments between two ripe females, both previously guarded by other males, were carried out to examine the above predictions. Males did not prefer females of larger size, higher fecundity or with less time remaining until spawning. These results suggest that males may not have complete information about potential partners, rather that male hermit crabs may adopt a mating strategy of pairing with the first ripe female they encounter. Even with such incomplete mate assessment, males may enhance their reproductive success by recognizing ripe females that will spawn within a given time (about 5 days in the present case).

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Goshima, S., Kawashima, T. & Wada, S. Mate choice by males of the hermit crab Pagurus filholi: Do males assess ripeness and/or fecundity of females?. Ecol Res 13, 151–161 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1440-1703.1998.00254.x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1440-1703.1998.00254.x

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