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Factors Affecting Mating Tactics in the Fiddler Crab, Uca vocans hesperiae

Authors


Miranda L. Dyson, Department of Biological Sciences, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK.
E-mail: m.dyson@open.ac.uk

Abstract

The mating strategies of male fiddler crabs are variable and highly flexible within species. In this study I examine three types of mating strategy used by individual male Uca vocans hesperaie. The most common strategy, termed a ‘standard gambit’, where males approached females at their burrow entrance and initiated courtship, accounted for 63% of mating attempts and 75% of successful matings. The rarest strategy (4% of mating attempts) was the ‘dig out’, where males attempted to mate with females whose burrows they had excavated. This strategy accounted for 19% of successful matings. ‘Herding’ behaviour which involved a male attempting to herd a female into a burrow and mate, contributed 33% of mating attempts but were generally unsuccessful, accounting for only 2.6% of successful matings. Males used more than one strategy during the study period. Smaller males used the standard gambit strategy more often than herding or dig outs while larger males used the herding strategy more often. There was no relationship between male size and mating success and males did not preferentially mate with females of a certain size. The predominant strategy adopted by males over the lunar cycle depended on female behaviour. Herding behaviour was induced by female wandering which escalated at full moon. Standard gambits were the commonest strategy adopted at and around new moon. The low success rate of male mating attempts (16%) indicates a reluctance by females to mate multiply. This may lead to conflict between the sexes because in fiddler crabs there is last male sperm precedence.

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