2012 Student Research Conference:
25th Annual Student Research Conference

Terrestrial Hermit Crab (Coenobita clypeatus) Site Fidelity In a Tropical Microhabitat
Evan J. Lindbergh*, Jennifer M. Cacchio, Elizabeth M. Deeken, and Tessa B. Steiniche
Dr. Michael I. Kelrick, Faculty Mentor

For many species, site fidelity influences individuals' local movements and/or migration throughout their lives. Site fidelity requires knowledge of a landscape, and indicates navigational ability within it. Crabs are known to exhibit site fidelity - for example, to feeding sites (tree crabs [Sesarma leptosoma]) and to breeding grounds (Dungeness crab [Cancer magister]). We studied movements of the terrestrial Caribbean hermit crab species, Coenobita clypeatus, on Cayos Cochinos Menor, a small island off the northern Honduran coast. Discovery of a dense aggregation of hermit crabs inside a mango tree "refugium" inspired our investigation. We tested three factors regarding their prospective movements to/from the tree: sex, size, and relocation distance from the refugium. Our three-day mark-recapture study showed that individuals most likely to return were the smallest crabs, released at the shortest distance (five meters) from the tree. Managing terrestrial osmoregulatory demands represents one plausible explanation of our experiment's results.

Keywords: biology, tropical ecology, hermit crab, site fidelity, microhabitat

Topic(s):Biology

Presentation Type: Poster

Session: 200-6
Location: Georgian Room - SUB
Time: 3:30

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