Interval between reproductive events is an important factor for iteroparous animals because it determines the number of clutches throughout life. This study examined whether female size, clutch size, shell size and prenuptial molting affected the clutch interval in the hermit crab Pagurus nigrivittatus. Precopulatory guarding pairs of P. nigrivittatus were sampled in the field and kept in the laboratory until the female extruded eggs. The clutch interval of each female was assessed as one of two types of relatively "short" and "long" intervals by checking whether the guarded female had eggs and/or egg cases from the preceding brood or not when the guarding pair was collected. The clutch interval was longer in females with prenuptial molting than those without molting and these females usually grew larger at the prenuptial molt. This suggests that female P. nigrivittatus with a long interval might allocate energy into growth at the expense of the number of clutches during the current reproductive season. The allocation to growth is theoretically predicted to decrease with female size. Gastropod shell size is also known to affect the reproductive activity in hermit crabs. However, female size did not significantly affect the clutch interval in P. nigrivittatus, and the effect of gastropod shell size on clutch interval was not consistent with previous empirical studies. These results may be caused by differences in the gastropod species of shell occupied by the females of P. nigrivittatus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Aquatic Science