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Daily activity of four tropical intertidal hermit crabs from Southeastern Brazil

Atividade diária de quatro espécies tropicais entremarés de ermitões do Sudeste brasileiro

This study describes the daily activity in a simulated high tide situation of four species of hermit crabs (Pagurus criniticornis, Clibanarius antillensis, C. sclopetarius, and C. vittatus) that coexist in an intertidal flat in southeastern Brazil. Observations were done in two-hour intervals during two subsequent days (48 h) in three replicate pools with thirty crabs each. Among species (between and within genera) there was an evident variation in activity patterns, of which three could be distinguished. The circadian activity patterns of C. antillensis and C. vittatus could be characterized as evening and nocturnal, with resting peaks during the morning and afternoon. The circadian activity pattern of C. sclopetarius was characterized by two marked peaks of inactivity, corresponding to dawn and evening, which could represent an intrinsic association with the semi-lunar tidal cycles of the study area. Pagurus criniticornis showed high activity not influenced by day/night conditions during the entire observed period. These activity pattern variations of the studied hermit crabs should be taken into account in designing further experiments. More precise and accurate interspecific behavioral comparisons among species could be achieved in nocturnal experiments, the high activity period of all species.

rhythms; activity patterns; behavior; Clibanarius; Pagurus; Diogenidae; Paguridae

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