Braz. J. Biol., 63(4): 721-722, 2003
UNUSUAL SHELTERS OCCUPIED BY HERMIT CRABS 721
UNUSUAL SHELTERS OCCUPIED BY BRAZILIAN HERMIT
CRABS (CRUSTACEA: DECAPODA: DIOGENIDAE)
GARCIA, R. B., MEIRELES, A. L. and MANTELATTO, F. L.
Departamento de Biologia, Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto, Universidade de São Paulo
(USP), Av. Bandeirantes 3900, CEP 14040-901, Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, Brazil
Correspondence to: Fernando L. Mantelatto, Departamento de Biologia, Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras
de Ribeirão Preto, Universidade de São Paulo (USP), Av. Bandeirantes 3900, CEP 14040-901, Ribeirão Preto,
São Paulo, Brazil, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Received May 10, 2002 – Accepted July 11, 2002 – Distributed November 30, 2003
(With 1 figure)
Hermit crabs are commonly found occupying
gastropod shells. However, some hermits are known
to utilize a variety of alternative shelters such as
tusk shells, serpulid tubes, cavities of stones, sponges,
dead corals, pieces of bamboo, bivalve shells (see
Imafuku & Ando, 1999), and/or a variety of
gastropod shells with the exterior surface colonized
by organisms that affect shell selection (see Brooks
& Mariscal, 1985). Despite the 47 hermit crab
species recorded in Brazilian waters (Melo, 1999;
Mantelatto et al., 2001; Nucci & Melo, 2003), there
have been no reports on type of shelters other than
gastropod shells occupied by hermit crabs on the
In December 2000, a male of Dardanus venosus
(H. Milne Edwards, 1848), and a female of Paguristes
erythrops Holthuis, 1959 (3.2 and 3.9 mm in shield
length, SL, respectively), were caught by SCUBA
methods on the rocky surface of the infralittoral area
(9 m depth) of Anchieta Island (23o33’S, 45o05’W),
Ubatuba region, São Paulo State. The male D.
venosus inhabited a bivalve shell (shell aperture width,
SAW = 10.0 mm; shell aperture length, SAL = 9.4
mm) of Chama congregata Conrad, 1833 (Fig. 1A),
and the female P. erythrops a gastropod shell (SAW =
3.8 mm and SAL = 6.7 mm) of Favartia cellulosa
(Conrad, 1846) totally covered by live corals of
Astrangia rathbuni (Vaughan, 1906) (Fig. 1B).
On February 2001, one male and one female (6.9
and 3.0 mm of SL, respectively) of Dardanus insignis
(Saussure, 1858) were collected on soft bottom substrate
(35 to 45 m depth) with a double-rig trawl net in
Caraguatatuba Bay (23o 57’S, 45o 28’W), and São
Sebastião Island region (23o44’S, 45o02’W), northern
coast of São Paulo State. The male inhabited a barnacle
shell (SAW = 14.4 mm and SAL = 12.3 mm) of
Balanus venustus (Darwin, 1854) covered by small
cirriped shells of the same species (Fig. 1C); and the
female inhabited a gastropod shell (SAW = 5.0 mm
and SAL = 10.0 mm) of Fusinus brasiliensis (Grabau,
1904) covered by a colony of unknown bryozoan (Fig.
1D). Voucher specimens collected are deposited in
the Crustacean Collection of the Biology Department
of FFCLRP, University of São Paulo, Brazil (DB/
FFCLRP/USP 1087 to 1090).
As far as we known, the present communication
is the first report of uncommon shelters used by hermit
crabs in shallow waters of the Brazilian coast. It is
important to note that the majority of specimens in
all species reported here were found occupying
gastropod shells in the natural populations (99.8%
of the total) studied in the same region (Mantelatto
et al., 2001; Mantelatto & Garcia, 2002).
No deformities in pleopod, abdomen or
pereopod morphology were observed in these hermit
crabs. However, the length of the exopod of the
uropods were measured, and the asymmetry index
(AI) was calculated following Van Valen (1962);
AI = (L – R)/(L + R), with L and R being left and
right measurements, respectively. The index varies
from +1 (left longer) to –1 (right longer), with 0
indicating perfect symmetry. The female D. insignis
had almost symmetrical uropods (0.15), while the
others presented markedly left-biased asymmetrical
uropods (0.24 for D. venosus; 0.21 for male of D.
insignis; and 0.24 for P. erythrops). The present study
reports isolated cases of uncommon hermit crab
shelters in the São Paulo coast.
NOTE AND COMMENTS
Braz. J. Biol., 63(4): 721-722, 2003 Download full-text
722GARCIA, R. B., MEIRELES, A. L. and MANTELATTO, F. L.
Acknowledgments — The authors are grateful to FAPESP (Grants
98/07454-5; 99/11679-5; 00/02554-3; 98/07090-3) for financial
support in sampling work. Special thanks are due to Drs. Osmar
Domaneschi (IB – USP), Fabio Pitombo (UFRRJ), Alvaro
Migotto (CEBIMar – USP), and Adilson Fransozo (UNESP)
for assistance with shell, cirriped, and coral species identification,
and for making available hermits collected during BIOTA/
FAPESP program, respectively.
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Fig. 1 — Uncommon shelters occupied by hermit crabs in Ubatuba region. A) A male of Dardanus venosus inhabiting a bi-
valve shell of Chama congregata; B) a female of Paguristes erythrops inhabiting a gastropod shell of Favartia cellulosa to-
tally covered by live corals of Astrangia rathbuni; C) a male of Dardanus insignis inhabiting a barnacle shell of Balanus venustus
totally covered by small shells of the same species; D) a female of Dardanus insignis inhabiting a gastropod shell of Fusinus
brasiliensis covered by a colony of unknown bryozoan.