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In mid-Atlantic estuaries, three fiddler crab species, Uca pugilator, Uca pugnax and Uca minax co-occur, with their adults occupying different habitat types distinguished by salinity and sediment size. Some evidence exists that selective settlement is responsible for this separation but the mechanism is largely unknown. We tested the hypothesis that field-caught megalopae would accelerate metamorphosis in the presence of adult species-specific environmental acoustic cues and conspecific chemical cues. We placed megalopae in seawater with and without adult chemical cues, exposed them to one of three sound treatments for 8 days, and recorded the time each megalopa took to metamorphose. In the absence of adult chemical cues, very few megalopae molted regardless of sound treatment. Molting in the presence of habitat sound and chemical cues varied by species. Many U. pugilator molted in all sound and odor combinations, including no odor/sound. U. pugnax was stimulated to molt by chemical cues from either U. pugilator or U. pugnax, but molting was similar across sound treatments. Our results do not support the hypothesis that sound stimulates molting by fiddler crab megalopae, but support the role of chemical odors from adults as molting cues.
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Waddell, Emily E.; Piniak, Wendy Dow; Reinsel, Kathleen A.; and Welch, James M., "The Role of Adult Fiddler Crab Environmental Acoustic Cues and Chemical Cues in Stimulating Molting of Field-Caught Megalopae" (2017). Student Publications. 517.