The function of colourful facial bands in mangrove crab (Perisesarma) communication

Please be informed of this newly published journal article by RMBR research associates Prof Peter Alan Todd and Dr Darren Yeo in Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology.

Prof Peter Alan Todd Dr Darren Yeo

Todd, Peter A., W. Y. Wang, H. Huang, C. C. Belle, M. L. M. Lim, D. C. J. Yeo (2011) The function of colourful facial bands in mangrove crab (Perisesarma) communication. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 407: 26-33.

Its abstract as follows:

Bright colours are a key visual signal in many animal communication systems. Here we examine the function of the blue-green facial bands found in two species of mangrove crabs, Perisesarma eumolpe (De Man) and P. indiarum (Tweedie). Food (mangrove leaves) deprivation and re-feeding experiments demonstrated that facial band brightness and saturation changed significantly with nutritional status. These results suggest that the colours are diet-derived and could be carotenoid-based. Manipulation of the facial bands had significant effects on inter-crab behaviour. When P. indiarum and P. eumolpe males were given a choice between a female with its facial band blacked out and a similar-sized control female with natural colour, they consistently chose the latter. In a resource holding potential (RHP) experiment, male crabs defending burrows responded differently to male con-specific intruders with blacked out facial bands compared to non-blacked out controls. Together, the results show that brightly coloured facial bands in P. eumolpe and P. indiarum are important for communication; either as a way to identify conspecifics, or to convey nutritional status and hence physical quality.

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