Size- and sex-related aspects of the ecology of the hermit crab Clibanarius digueti Bouvier (Decapoda: Anomura: Diogenidae).
AuthorHarvey, Alan Wayne.
KeywordsHermit crabs -- Mexico -- California, Gulf of.
Sexual dimorphism (Animals)
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractI examine some of the ecological and evolutionary implications of body size in hermit crabs, with special emphasis on the upper intertidal species Clibanarius digueti. In Chapter 1 I show that body size had a far greater effect than species identity on desiccation tolerance for shell-less individuals of C. digueti, Paguristes anahuacus, Pagurus lepidus, and Phimochirus roseus. In contrast with other intertidal taxa, there was no correlation between the upper tidal limit of a species and the expected desiccation tolerance of an average-sized, shell-less individual of that species. This suggests that the gastropod shell that normally houses the hermit crab is sufficient to eliminate desiccation as a community-structuring force in this guild. Clibanarius digueti exhibits strong sexual dimorphism in body size, with almost no overlap in size between adult males and females. In Chapter 2 I show that sexual differences in the intensity of selection on size favor this dimorphism. Specifically, male mating success depended more strongly on body size than did female fecundity. In fact, the rate of increase in fecundity with body size equalled the lowest previously recorded for decapod crustaceans, suggesting that sexual size dimorphism in this species may depend more on weak fecundity selection on females than on strong sexual selection on males. Documenting contemporary selection on a character, however, is not the same as documenting that selection caused the character to evolve. Chapter 3 presents the first empirical test in a single species (C. digueti) of the hypothesis that sexual size dimorphism represents an evolutionary response to sexual differences in selection on size. The test is based on a general model that predicts crab body size as a function of shell limitations, shell fit and body size. Both males and females occupied optimally sized shells of non-preferred species, but the greater the desirability of a shell species, the greater the tendency for males to occupy tighter-fitting shells than females. Males also apparently suffere higher mortality than similarly-sized females. According to the general model, these results agree with the hypothesis that differential selection is causally involved in the evolution of sexual size dimorphism, and contradict the alternative hypothesis that energetic constraints on females produce the dimorphism.
Degree ProgramEcology & Evolutionary Biology