1 Tahrcountry Musings: Hermit Crabs and their Social Networking

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hermit Crabs and their Social Networking

May/June 2010 issue of the journal Behavioral Ecology available online, charmed me no end. It has some incredible info on the social networking of hermit crabs. It is a study of hermit crabs by biologists at Tufts University's School of Arts and Sciences and the New England Aquarium and it has given us a better understanding of social interactions among hermit crabs.
Hermit crabs require empty snail shells for shelter. As they grow bigger they need to find new shells. When there aren't enough suitable shells to go around and some hermit crabs have to go naked. This makes them very vulnerable to predators. So they invariably have to go and scout for new homes if they are to survive in the hostile environment.
When a new shell becomes available, crabs gather around it and queue up in a line from largest to smallest. Once the largest crab moves into the vacant shell, each crab in the queue latches on to the newly vacated shell in front of them.  A chain of shell vacancies is created that ultimately leads to many crabs getting new shells. This is indeed a very carefully crafted housing policy.

No comments: