Differences in context and function of two distinct waving displays in the fiddler crab, Uca perplexa (Decapoda : Ocypodidae)

Martin J. How*, Jochen Zeil, Jan M. Hemmi

*Corresponding author for this work

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

25 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

To respond appropriately to communication signals, animals must have the ability to decipher signal meaning. At a basic level, interpreting the difference between territorial and courtship signals can be vital for the survival and reproduction of social animals. Male and female fiddler crabs communicate with claw-waving displays, but the function of these waves remains uncertain. Species differ in the context in which they wave: Some wave during courtship, some during territorial defence and some during both. In this paper, we provide evidence that males of an Australian species of fiddler crab, Uca perplexa, use two different types of claw waving display, lateral and vertical. Lateral waves are employed solely in a courtship context, whilst vertical waves are employed during courtship as well as territorial interactions. Using video recordings, we show that lateral waves were produced spontaneously (broadcast), and their frequency increased only in the presence of female wanderers. Vertical waves were not broadcast but were elicited by male wanderers during agonistic interactions and female wanderers during close range courtship. Male resident U. perplexa were able to discriminate the sex of wandering crabs on the mudflat at distances of 32 cm. During all resident-wanderer interactions, residents attempted to maintain a position directly between the wanderer and the home burrow and orient themselves to face females and to present the major claw towards males. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of the multiple use of waving displays in a fiddler crab species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-148
Number of pages12
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Volume62
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007

Keywords

  • fiddler crab
  • movement-based visual signals
  • signal function
  • claw waving
  • Uca perplexa
  • GENUS UCA
  • FEMALE CHOICE
  • MATING SYSTEM
  • REPRODUCTIVE-BEHAVIOR
  • BURROW SURVEILLANCE
  • LACTEA-ANNULIPES
  • VISUAL CONTROL
  • MATE CHOICE
  • PUGILATOR
  • COURTSHIP

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