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Interpreting odours in hermit crabs: A comparative study

Tricarico, Elena; Breithaupt, Thomas; Gherardi, Francesca


Elena Tricarico

Thomas Breithaupt

Francesca Gherardi


Odours of different sources can indicate to hermit crabs the availability of empty shells, crucial resources for the life cycle of almost all of them. Here, we compared Clibanarius erythropus and Pagurus bernhardus for the intensity of investigative behaviour exhibited towards an empty, well-fitting shell in the presence of (1) plain seawater as control and seawater conditioned by (2) dead and live snails, (3) dead and live conspecifics, (4) live predators, and (5) food. During 10 min of observation, we recorded latency (the time until the first contact with the shell), and the number and duration of shell investigation bouts. The two species behaved similarly when exposed to the odours of food, live snails, and predators, while a more intense shell investigation was induced by dead snail odour in C. erythropus and by dead or live conspecific odour in P. bernhardus. Further studies should investigate the influence of phylogeny and ecology on this interspecific difference. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.


Tricarico, E., Breithaupt, T., & Gherardi, F. (2011). Interpreting odours in hermit crabs: A comparative study. Estuarine, coastal and shelf science, 91(2), 211-215.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 24, 2010
Online Publication Date Nov 9, 2010
Publication Date Jan 20, 2011
Print ISSN 0272-7714
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 91
Issue 2
Pages 211-215
Keywords Pagurus bernhardus; Clibanarius erythropus; Odours; Shell investigation
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