Dec 21, 2005

Unraveling the nature of individual recognition by odor in hermit crabs

Journal of Chemical Ecology
Francesca GherardiJelle Atema


Individual recognition is a key element in the social life of many invertebrates. However, most studies conducted so far document that several species are capable of a "binary" discrimination among conspecifics, but not of a "true individual recognition." Our objective was to learn more about the mechanisms that underlie individual recognition by odor in hermit crabs by individuating some of its properties. Using Pagurus longicarpus Say 1817 as a model species, we conducted four series of experiments in which the response of every test crab (the "receiver") to the different odor treatments (emitted by a "sender") was evaluated from its investigative behavior toward an empty, high-quality shell. After having excluded the possibility that crabs chemically recognize familiar/unfamiliar shells and/or shells of high/low quality, we explored whether the receivers discriminate odors from two familiar senders and whether this discrimination also occurs with unfamiliar crabs. We also asked whether crabs form an association between the odor of a familiar sender and some of its relevant attributes, i.e., rank, size, and shell quality. Finally, the shells inhabited by familiar individuals were manipulated to modify the association between ...Continue Reading

  • References11
  • Citations9


  • References11
  • Citations9


Mentioned in this Paper

Cancer Genus
Smell Perception
Pagurus longicarpus
Infestation by Phthirus Pubis
Shell - Animal Skin Appendage

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