Monoamines and decision making during contests in the hermit crab Pagurus bernhardus

Mark Briffa, Robert Elwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


During fights animals are expected to make a series of strategic decisions that involve interactions between information about the contest and the individual's nervous system that produce a change in behaviour. Biogenic monoamines such as serotonin ('5-HT') and dopamine are thought to prime decision-making centres for appropriate responses during aggressive interactions in crustaceans, and circulating levels vary both between individuals and during agonistic encounters. Aminergenic systems operate in diverse animal taxa and in this study we assayed circulating levels of S-HT and dopamine following shell fights in the common European hermit crab, Pagurus bernhardus. The two roles in these fights, attacker and defender, perform different activities but, in both, S-HT increased and dopamine declined in response to engaging in a fight. In defenders but not attackers, giving up was correlated with low 5-HT and dopamine. In attackers, motivation to initiate a fight was positively correlated with dopamine levels. Circulating monoamines are therefore involved in decision making during these aggressive encounters. (c) 2007 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-612
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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