Brazilian Journal of Oceanography
Print version ISSN 1679-8759
AYRES-PERES, Luciane; QUADROS, Aline Ferreira and MANTELATTO, Fernando L.. Comparative analysis of shell occupation by two southern populations of the hermit crab Loxopagurus loxochelis (Decapoda, Diogenidae). Braz. j. oceanogr. [online]. 2012, vol.60, n.3, pp. 299-310. ISSN 1679-8759. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1679-87592012000300003.
The present study aimed to comparatively verify the relation between the hermit crabs and the shells they use in two populations of Loxopagurus loxochelis. Samples were collected monthly from July 2002 to June 2003, at Caraguatatuba and Ubatuba Bay, São Paulo, Brazil. The animals sampled had their sex identified, were weighed and measured; their shells were identified, measured and weighed, and their internal volume determined. To relate the hermit crab's characteristics and the shells' variables, principal component analysis (PCA) and a regression tree were used. According to the PCA analysis, the three gastropod shells most frequently used by L. loxochelis varied in size. The regression tree successfully explained the relationship between the hermit crab's characteristics and the internal volume of the inhabited shell. It can be inferred that the relationship between the morphometry of an individual hermit crab and its shell is not straightforward and it is impossible to explain only on the basis of direct correlations between the body's and the shell's attributes. Several factors (such as the morphometry and the availability of the shell, environmental conditions and inter- and intraspecific competition) interact and seem to be taken into consideration by the hermit crabs when they choose a shell, resulting in the diversified pattern of shell occupancy shown here and elsewhere.
Keywords : Diogenidae; shell utilization; PCA; regression tree; Atlantic.