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RATE OF NEW SHELL ACQUISITION BY HERMIT CRABS IN A SALT MARSH HABITAT

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ABSTRACT We predicted that measurable numbers of new snail shells are transferred daily to hermit crabs in habitats where gastropods frequently prey upon other gastropods. The rate of new shell acquisition by hermit crabs, Pagurus longicarpus, was monitored daily in northeastern Gulf of Mexico salt marshes where crown conchs, Melongena corona, prey heavily upon marsh periwinkles, Littorina irrorata. Periwinkle shells, marked while housing live snails, appeared on P. longicarpus at daily rates ranging from 1 to >20 for selected areas of approximately 60 m2 in three marshes. The maximum number (22.8) of new periwinkle shells appearing among P. longicarpus in the immediate area (300 m2) represented 16.5% of crabs present there each day.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32306.

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/content/journals/10.1163/1937240x82x00266
1982-01-01
2016-12-02

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