Function of the major cheliped in male–male competition in the hermit crab Pagurus nigrofascia
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Functions of the major cheliped in pagurid hermit crabs have been studied in fights for shells. The major cheliped often shows sexual size dimorphism, suggesting that sexual selection favors the development of the male major cheliped. The function of the major cheliped in male–male competition was examined in Pagurus nigrofascia collected from April to June 2009 on the intertidal rocky shore in southern Hokkaido, Japan (41°N, 140°E). Sexual size dimorphism of the major cheliped was observed, and precopulatory guarding males had larger major chelipeds than solitary ones. Guarding males used the major cheliped to deter intruders during competitive interactions. Males without a major cheliped were disadvantaged even if they were larger than opponents and had ownership. Cheliped size affected the outcomes of contests between similar sized males. This suggests that the male major cheliped in P. nigrofascia protects mates from competitors and, consequently, enhances male mating success. Sexual selection may favor the development of the major cheliped in male pagurids.
KeywordsSexual Selection Large Male Sexual Size Dimorphism Hermit Crab Small Male
We would like to thank Dr. Chris Norman, Dr. Fumio Takeshita, Mr. Paul Larson, Dr. John Bower, and two anonymous reviewers for their invaluable comments on the manuscript.
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