How resource quality differentially affects motivation and ability to fight in hermit crabs

S. Doake, R. W. Elwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Contesting animals typically gather information about the resource value and that information affects fight motivation. However, it is possible that particular resource characteristics alter the ability to fight independently of the motivation. Using hermit crabs, we investigate how the resource in terms of shell quality affects both motivation and ability to fight. These crabs fight for shells, but those shells have to be carried and may impose physiological costs that impede fight vigour. We find that the shell has different effects on motivation and ability. Potential attackers in very small shells were highly motivated to attack but, rather than having enhanced ability, unexpectedly quickly fatigued and subsequently were not more successful in the fights than were crabs in larger shells. We also examined whether defending crabs could gather information about the attacker's shell from the vigour of the attack. Defending crabs gave up quickly when a potential gain had been assessed, indicating that such information had been gathered. However, there was no indication that this could be owing to the activity of the attacker and the information is probably gathered via visual assessment of the shell.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-573
Number of pages7
Issue number1705
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'How resource quality differentially affects motivation and ability to fight in hermit crabs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this