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image of Journal of Crustacean Biology

ABSTRACT The mating behavior of the sand bubbler crab Scopimera globosa was studied in an intertidal area of Fukuoka, Japan, from 1988-1991. This species mates both on the surface and underground, as do some fiddler crabs. In surface copulations, wandering males mate sequentially with resident females beside burrows of females. In underground copulations, resident males chase and capture wandering females, carry them to their burrows and push them below. Males then enter their burrows and plug them within minutes. Pairs presumably copulate in these burrows. Unlike the fiddler crabs, however, most females that stayed in burrows of males did not have mature ovaries and wandered again within a few days. Consequently, only 30% of the females that stayed in burrows of males spawned in those burrows. After the spawning, males abandoned their burrows, while females remained in them during incubation. Thus, forced copulation characterizes the mating system of this species, though there is room for female choice. Mating success was much lower in underground than in surface copulation. However, males that succeed in forcing females into their burrows may gain a reproductive advantage, because the sperm of the last male to mate with a female prior to egg extrusion is used to fertilize most of the eggs.


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