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Abstract

Sesarma leptosoma an East African mangrove-dwelling crab, migrates twice a day from a system of known dens among the roots to well-defined feeding areas in the branches of trees, reaching 15 m high. Field experiments were performed to test whether chemical or visual cues are involved in the orientation and homing of this species to reach their feeding areas. Manipulation of the substratum at branch junctions, in order to alter possible chemical cues, did not affect homing ability in S. leptosoma. Moreover, crabs trained to cross an asymmetrical artificial wooden fork could still follow their preferred directions after (1) the fork branches had been switched, (2) the whole fork had been rotated around the trunk, resulting in a right-left inversion, and (3) the inversion of two wide black and white screens hiding most of the canopy from view of the climbing crabs. These results suggest that S. leptosoma may not rely on reference systems such as chemical trail-following and chemical or visual cues from the substratum, but probably depend on complex visual information from the surroundings trunks and/or from the sun's position integrated with junction sequence memory.