Temporal variation in cannibalistic infanticide by the shore crab Hemigrapsus oregonensis: implications for reproductive success

Authors

  • Seth H. Miller,

    Corresponding author
    1. Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California Davis, Bodega Bay, CA, USA
    • Correspondence

      Seth H. Miller, Bodega Marine Laboratory

      University of California Davis, 2099 Westside Road, Bodega Bay, CA 94923, USA.

      E-mail: shmiller@ucdavis.edu

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  • Steven G. Morgan

    1. Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California Davis, Bodega Bay, CA, USA
    2. Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California, Davis, CA, USA
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Abstract

Larvae of benthic marine organisms are released amid high densities of suspension feeding and predatory adults and are highly subject to being consumed, even by conspecifics or their own parent. During laboratory feeding trials conducted in June 2006, female shore crabs (Hemigrapsus oregonensis) from Stege Marsh in San Francisco Bay (37°54.530′ N, 122°19.734′ W) that released their larvae during the previous 24 h ate fewer conspecific larvae than females that had not recently released larvae, though the behavior was not repeated during similar trials in 2007. Additionally, the number of larvae eaten increased with increasing starvation time, and hungrier females showed a trend toward eating more larvae from a different species (Carcinus maenas) than larvae of conspecifics. Thus, suppression of suspension feeding may reduce conspecific predation of newly released larvae, but this response partially depends on hunger level. This is the first time crabs have been shown to suppress feeding to reduce cannibalism of larvae, and this behavior could affect reproductive success and population dynamics.

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