Courtship herding in the fiddler crab Uca elegans

Martin J. How*, Jan M. Hemmi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Male and female animals are not always complicit during reproduction, giving rise to coercion. One example of a system that is assumed to involve sexual coercion is the mate herding behaviour of fiddler crabs: males push females towards the home burrow with the goal of forcing copulation at the burrow entrance. We recorded and analysed in detail the courtship behaviour of a North Australian species of fiddler crab Uca elegans. Courtship was composed of four main phases: broadcast waving, outward run, herding and at burrow display. During interactions males produced claw-waving displays which were directed posteriorly towards the female and which varied in timing and structure depending on the courtship phase. We suggest that courtship herding in U. elegans is driven primarily by mate choice for the following reasons, (1) females can evade herding, (2) no other reproductive strategies were observed, (3) males broadcast their presence and accompany courtship with conspicuous claw waves, and (4) the behaviour ends with the female leading the male into the home burrow. As an alternative function for herding in U. elegans we suggest that the behaviour represents a form of courtship guiding, in which males direct complicit females to the correct home burrow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1053-1061
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A
Volume194
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008

Keywords

  • Courtship herding
  • Visual signal
  • Coercion
  • Fiddler crab
  • Uca elegans
  • SEXUAL COERCION
  • MATE CHOICE
  • WAVING DISPLAY
  • WATER STRIDERS
  • VISUAL CONTROL
  • BEHAVIOR
  • FEMALES
  • CONSTRAINTS
  • COPULATION
  • HYPOTHESIS

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