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Sex-specific mediation of foraging in the shore crab, Carcinus maenas

Hayden, Dominic; Jennings, Alice; Müller, Carsten; Pascoe, David; Bublitz, Ralf; Webb, Heather; Breithaupt, Thomas; Watkins, Lloyd; Hardege, Jörg


Dominic Hayden

Alice Jennings

Carsten Müller

David Pascoe

Ralf Bublitz

Heather Webb

Lloyd Watkins


Experiments were conducted to investigate the sex-specific differences to feeding responses of the shore crab Carcinus maenas throughout the year. Results demonstrate that female shore crabs exhibit stronger feeding responses than males throughout the year with a significantly reduced feeding response in males during the summer months' reproductive season. We also studied the possible function(s) of the moulting hormone, 20-hydroxyecdysone (Crustecdysone) that has been described as a potential female-produced sex pheromone to initiate male reproductive behaviour in a number of crustaceans. We recently presented evidence that for shore crabs this is not the case and now show that the steroid is instead functioning as a sex-specific feeding deterrent protecting the moulting 'soft' female crabs. Whilst male shore crabs were deterred from prey (Mytilus edulis) and synthetic feeding stimulants glycine and taurine when these feeding stimulants were spiked with crustecdysone, intermoult female crabs were significantly less affected and rarely deterred from feeding. This sex specificity of the moulting hormone, in combination with the female sex pheromone, which has no anti-feeding properties, ensures that male crabs mate with soft-shelled, moulted females rather than engage in cannibalism, such as found frequently in cases when soft-shelled females are exposed to intermoult females. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Hayden, D., Jennings, A., Müller, C., Pascoe, D., Bublitz, R., Webb, H., …Hardege, J. (2007). Sex-specific mediation of foraging in the shore crab, Carcinus maenas. Hormones and Behavior, 52(2), 162-168.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 15, 2007
Online Publication Date Mar 21, 2007
Publication Date 2007-08
Print ISSN 0018-506X
Electronic ISSN 1095-6867
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 52
Issue 2
Pages 162-168
Keywords Carcinus maenas; Pheromone; Crustecdysone; 20-Hydroxyecdysone; Feeding
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