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Abstract

Males of 14 species of fiddler crabs (genus Uca) are known to build structures out of mud or sand at the entrances to burrows they court from and defend. A study of spacing, space use and aggression between courting male Uca musica (Zucker 1974, 1981) suggested that the hoods males build reduce territorial overlap and rates of aggression between neighboring males. Thus, each male may have more time to court females during limited lunar, diurnal and tidal mating periods.

I studied the courtship and aggressive behavior of male Uca beebei in the field to determine if the pillars males of this species build affect male behavior as do the hoods of U. musica. U. beebei occurs sympatrically with U. musica on the Pacific coast of Panama and is broadly similar in its ecology and mating behavior. Unlike the hoods of U. musica, pillars did not focus a male's activity space away from its closest neighbor nor did they reduce either overlap with neighbors' activity spaces or rates of aggressive interaction among neighbors. Pillar builders courted more but also fought their neighbors more than did males that did not build pillars. The pillars of U. beebei and the hoods of U. musica affect male behavior differently and probably have different functions.