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Observations On Behavioral Ecology of the Fiddler Crab, Uca Pugilator (Bosc)

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Observations with a spotting scope were conducted on a natural population of Uca pugilator in Massachusetts, during the summer of 1963, over a 10 day period. Resident crabs in the study area were marked to determine the extent of movement within the population. Females were found to be less transient and attain greater density in the population than males. Generally, however, the population appeared relatively stable and unchanging throughout the period of observation. Additional information is presented with regard to hole specificity, distance between burrows, plugging the burrow, and nocturnal activity. Results of these findings suggest that an internal biological clock acts to synchronize these activities with tidal rhythmicity. Finally, these observations confirm that female Uca pugilator exhibits elaborate and highly developed displacement behavior, consisting of displacement feeding; males did not display the phenomenon. Displacement feeding is characterized by rapid movement of the chela to the mouth, much in the same manner as normal feeding. It is different, however, in that no food particles are present and the activity is always restricted to situations of confrontation. Between two females only one, never both, commence to show displacement feeding.

Affiliations: 1: University of Colorado Museum, Boulder, Colorado, U.S.A.

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