IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Male fiddler crabs defend multiple burrows to attract additional females


  • Brian Mautz
  • Tanya Detto
  • Bob B.M. Wong
  • Hanna Kokko
  • Michael D. Jennions
  • Patricia R.Y. Backwell


Males of many species defend resources to attract females. Surprisingly, defense of multiple female breeding sites (e.g., nests or burrows) appears to be rare, primarily reported in fish and birds. In fiddler crabs, burrows are a vital resource for reproduction and survival. Both sexes defend individual territories centered on a single burrow. We examined burrow acquisition and defense in Uca capricornis to test whether males defend multiple burrows as a novel strategy to acquire additional mates. When crabs were experimentally forced to acquire a new burrow, females often settled into an empty burrow near resident males. We documented more empty burrows around males than expected by chance and, in addition, larger males had a greater proportion of empty burrows in their immediate vicinity. We experimentally introduced crabs into empty burrows next to focal males: newly introduced males were soon evicted, whereas females were courted and stayed. These results suggest that male U. capricornis defend empty burrows as a strategy to obtain more mates. Intriguingly, however, U. capricornis tend to occur in socially monogamous pairs. This raises the possibility of sexual conflict within social pairs over the presence of additional females and that female--female competition might constrain male mating success. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Brian Mautz & Tanya Detto & Bob B.M. Wong & Hanna Kokko & Michael D. Jennions & Patricia R.Y. Backwell, 2011. "Male fiddler crabs defend multiple burrows to attract additional females," Behavioral Ecology, International Society for Behavioral Ecology, vol. 22(2), pages 261-267.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:beheco:v:22:y:2011:i:2:p:261-267

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:beheco:v:22:y:2011:i:2:p:261-267. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.