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Brazilian Journal of Biology
On-line version ISSN 1519-6984
TURRA, A. and DENADAI, M. R.. Substrate use and selection in sympatric intertidal hermit crab species. Braz. J. Biol. [online]. 2002, vol.62, n.1, pp. 107-112. ISSN 1519-6984. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1519-69842002000100013.
Coexisting hermit crabs may competitively interact for shells and microhabitats, mainly when shell availability is habitat-related. Three species of Clibanarius (C. antillensis, C. sclopetarius, and C. vittatus) coexist in the intertidal region of Pernambuco Islet, Araçá Region, São Sebastião Channel, southeastern Brazil. This study evaluated crab preferences for four substrate types used by these species in nature (rocky shore, pebbles, sand, and mud) in allopatric (single species) and sympatric (three species) treatments in simulations of high tide and low tide. The substrate preference of the three hermit crabs did not vary between low and high tide situations. At low tide the crabs either moved into holes in the highly complex rocky substrate or buried themselves in mud. Substrate selection may explain the patterns of substrate use in nature only for C. vittatus. Clibanarius antillensis and C. sclopetarius showed closer similarities in the pattern of substrate selection in the sympatric treatment with the substrate use in nature than in allopatric treatment, indicating a positive influence (dependence) of the presence of one species on the presence of another. Use of sub-optimal substrates, mainly by C. antillensis, may be caused by other factors such as its low desiccation tolerances. If competition for space takes place among these species, it would be more intense between C. sclopetarius and C. vittatus given their higher overlap in substrate preference than between them and C. antillensis.
Keywords : resource partitioning; coexistence; substrate use; substrate selection; hermit crabs; Clibanarius; Diogenidae; Anomura; intertidal; southeastern Brazil.