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image of Journal of Crustacean Biology

ABSTRACT Hermit crabs were collected from intertidal and shallow nearshore habitats in the vicinity of Alligator Harbor, Florida, either by visual search of prescribed areas along transects or by collection of crabs that were attracted to baits of gastropod flesh (mimicking natural predation sites). The two sampling methods produced collections that were closely similar in crab species composition and relative abundance and in the relative abundance of the shells of the common gastropod genera that the crabs inhabited. The two collections differed in the following respects: (1) more individuals were collected at baits, (2) crabs attracted to baits probably were more secretive and less mobile, (3) significantly more crabs collected at baits occupied damaged shells (72.2%) than did those located by visual search (29.9%), (4) crabs attracted to baits occupied shells of more gastropod genera (22) than did those collected on transects (14), and (5) more individuals of small size and crabs of a wider size range were collected at baits. Our data suggest that the two methods sample different types of individuals with different efficiencies. Small secretive crabs that occupy damaged shells arc underrepresented in collections made by visual search, while larger crabs in intact shells are underrepresented at baits. Estimates of hermit crab population parameters probably should be based on a combination of sampling methods.

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


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