Shell architecture and its relation to shell occupation by the hermit crab Clibanarius antillensis under different wave action conditions


  • Araceli Argüelles Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  • Fernando Álvarez Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  • Guillermina Alcaraz Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México



hermit crabs, hydrodynamics, Clibanarius antillensis, gastropod shell, intertidal, rocky shore


We studied the intertidal hermit crab Clibanarius antillensis at Montepio Beach, Veracruz, Mexico, to determine whether architecture and weight of occupied shells varied with the degree of exposure to wave action. Data on shell use were obtained from 30-m transects perpendicular to the shoreline. The gastropod shells species used by C. antillensis were classified into four groups according to their morphology: neritiform, conical, turriculate, and turbinate. Neither the size nor the weight of hermit crabs varied along transects. A pattern showing differential use of shell type according to water velocity was detected. Neritiform and turriculate shells were the least occupied, and their abundance decreased with increasing water velocities. Conical and turbinate shells were the most used and their presence increased with increasing water velocities. Turbinate and conical shells are heavier and have a higher weight/exposed-area ratio than neritiform and turriculate shells, so using them at higher energy sites seems to be more advantageous than using turriculate shells. The pattern that emerges is one in which C. antillensis occupy different shells along the intertidal transect, probably due to the advantages that different shells may bring, such as minimising drag and the risk of dislodgement.


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How to Cite

Argüelles A, Álvarez F, Alcaraz G. Shell architecture and its relation to shell occupation by the hermit crab Clibanarius antillensis under different wave action conditions. scimar [Internet]. 2009Dec.30 [cited 2022Sep.30];73(4):717-23. Available from: