Scientia Marina, Vol 69, No 3 (2005)

Burying behaviour of two sympatric crab species: Cancer magister and Cancer productus

Iain J. McGaw
Department of Biological Sciences, UNLV - Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, United States


The mechanics and emergence patterns associated with burying behaviour were investigated in the Dungeness crab, Cancer magister, and the red rock crab, Cancer productus. Cancer magister used both the legs and chelae to excavate the sand, whereas Cancer productus used the legs to pull and push itself down into the sediment only using the chelae in a final push beneath the sediment. Several individuals of each species remained buried for over 50 h, which was accomplished by alterations in ventilatory physiology. More commonly, both species exhibited an endogenous rhythm of circadian periodicity, with peak periods of emergence from the sand occurring during nocturnal high tides. Although burial may act as a means of predator evasion and to ambush prey, it appears the primary reason may be to conserve energy. These two species of crabs often occur sympatrically; the difference in behaviours is closely related to previously reported differences in physiological mechanisms between the two species when buried.


Bury; Behaviour; Cancer magister; Cancer productus; endogenous rhythm

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Copyright (c) 2005 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

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