Journal article Open Access

Influence of temperature on intraspecific, unbalanced dyadic contests between crabs


Intraspecific agonistic interactions are widespread across the animal kingdom, with
many individual morphological and physiological characteristics playing important
roles in the fate of disputes. Additionally, changes to environmental conditions can
influence the outcomes of animal contests. The shore crab (Carcinus maenas) is a
globally distributed species, present in numerous coastal and estuarine temperate
systems around the world. Although shore crabs are highly tolerant to changes in
temperature, this parameter has important physiological effects on the species' ecology,
while its effects on behavior are not fully understood. Our study aims to investigate
how different individual characteristics (such as sex, color morphotype, carapace and
chela morphology) and temperature conditions affect the dyadic interactions between
shore crabs when disputing food resources. In general, the differences in carapace width
between opponents, their sexes, color morphotypes and the temperature conditions
interacted and were important predictors of the contest fate.Wefound that the body size
and color morphotype of C. maenas determined the fate of dyadic disputes. However,
the higher temperatures disrupted the well-established dominance of the larger red
color morphotype individuals. Overall, the agonistic contest results suggest higher
plasticity than previously acknowledged.

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