Robotic crabs reveal that female fiddler crabs are sensitive to changes in male display rate

Mowles, Sophie L. and Jennions, Michael and Backwell, Patricia R. Y. (2018) Robotic crabs reveal that female fiddler crabs are sensitive to changes in male display rate. Biology Letters, 14 (1). ISSN 1744-957X

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2017.0695

Abstract

Males often produce dynamic, repetitive courtship displays that can be demanding to perform and might advertise male quality to females. A key feature of demanding displays is that they can change in intensity: escalating as a male increases his signalling effort, but de-escalating as a signaller becomes fatigued. Here, we investigated whether female fiddler crabs, Uca mjoebergi, are sensitive to changes in male courtship wave rate. We performed playback experiments using robotic male crabs that had the same mean wave rate, but either escalated, de-escalated or remained constant. Females demonstrated a strong preference for escalating robots, but showed mixed responses to robots that de-escalated (‘fast’ to ‘slow’) compared to those that waved at a constant ‘medium’ rate. These findings demonstrate that females can discern changes in male display rate, and prefer males that escalate, but that females are also sensitive to past display rates indicative of prior vigour.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Courtship, Repeated signalling, Fiddler crab
Faculty: Faculty of Science & Technology
Depositing User: Dr Sophie Mowles
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 09:00
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2019 11:03
URI: http://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/702745

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