Analysis of multiple aspects of a repeated signal: power and rate of rapping during shell fights in hermit crabs

Mark Briffa, Robert Elwood, John Russ

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Repeated activities used by animals during contests are assumed to act as signals advertising the quality of the sender. However, their exact functions are not well understood and observations fit only a limited set of the predictions made by models of signaling systems. Experimental studies of contest behavior tend to focus on analysis of the rate of signaling, but individual performances may also vary in magnitude. Both of these features can vary between outcomes and within contests. We examined changes in the rate and power of shell rapping during shell fights in hermit crabs. We show that both rate and power decline during the course of the encounter and that the duration of pauses between bouts of shell rapping increases with an index of the total effort put into each bout. This supports the idea that the vigor of shell rapping is regulated by fatigue and could therefore act as a signal of stamina. By examining different interacting components of this complex activity, we gain greater insight into its function than would be achieved by investigating a single aspect in isolation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-79
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Volume14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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