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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X


BIAGI, RENATA; MEIRELES, ANDREA L; SCELZO, MARCELO A  and  MANTELATTO, FERNANDO L. Comparative study of shell choice by the southern endemic hermit crab Loxopagurus loxochelis from Brazil and Argentina. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2006, vol.79, n.4, pp.481-487. ISSN 0716-078X.

This study aimed to determine the shell choice pattern of the southern Atlantic endemic hermit crab Loxopagurus loxochelis from two different biogeographic provinces in Brazil and Argentina. Size and shell species preferences were determined for the two most occupied shell types (i.e., Olivancillaria urceus and Buccinanops gradatum) in Caraguatatuba region (Brazil) and in Mar del Plata (Argentina). Shell occupation was analyzed considering the biometric characteristics of shells, the occurrence of shell types, and the preference of the hermit crabs for the most frequently occupied shell species. Samples were taken using otter trawl in the infralittoral area of both regions and the animals captured were measured and weighed. Shells were identified, weighed, measured and their internal volume calculated. Experiments were accomplished in aquaria where the hermit crabs were allocated together with a sufficient number of adequate sized shells. In laboratory, L. loxochelis from Argentina presented no preference for any of the two offered shell species, while the specimens from Brazil significantly preferred B. gradatum shells. It was observed that the relation between shell dimensions and shell weight were the variables that best explained the association between hermit crabs and shells. Considering that Argentinean specimens are larger than the Brazilian ones we may infer that body size is a relevant factor to explain the observed differences found in relation to shell type preference

Keywords : shell preference; Anomura; Loxopagurus loxochelis.

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