Stimulated by a female pheromone, a crab male will grasp a female and carry her, thus protecting her during the period around her moulting. Mating is possible only during a short time after the moult.
With the antennae to the ground, the female shore crab hunts for prince charming. The olfactory organs are contained within the antennae of crabs. To the shore crab, odours and tastes form the letters of the language of love. The role of chemical communication in the love life of shore crabs has been charted in a new dissertation from Lund University in Sweden.
Mattias Ekerholm at the department of Cell and Organism Biology, Lund University in Sweden has studied the role of odours in shore crab mating. The female needs to find a male quickly, since she can only mate during a brief period directly after shedding her old shell ( i.e. moulting). She sniffs her way to a group of males competing for dominance. Following the scent trail of a dominant male, she also tries to avoid other males. Once near the male, she is overwhelmed by his odour, and rises up on tip-toe at the same time as she pumps her urine towards him. The female urine contains a pheromone that immediately makes the male respond. Mattias describes mating the following way:
- Now the male also starts walking around on tip-toe. With claws extended, he tries to look as impressive as possible. He has picked up the scent of the female. He then sniffs and tastes his way along her scent trail and, after a while he manages to find her.
Göran Frankel | alfa
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