- SPRINGER HEIDELBERG
In some fiddler crab species, males emit vibrations from their burrows to mate-searching females after they have attracted a female to the burrow entrance using a waving display. Although the vibrations are considered acoustic signals to induce mating, it has not been demonstrated whether the vibrations attract the females into the burrow and, consequently, influence females' mating decisions. We investigated the structures and patterns of the vibrations using a dummy female and demonstrated experimentally a female preference for male vibrations in Uca lactea in the field. The acoustic signals consisted of repetitions of pulses. The dominant frequency of the pulses decreased with male carapace width. The pulse length decreased slightly with an increasing number of vibrational repetitions, and the pulse interval increased with increasing repetitions. These factors imply that the vibrations convey information on male characteristics, such as body size and stamina. In the experiment on female mate choice, the females significantly preferred males with higher pulse repetition rates when they were positioned at the entrance of the burrow, indicating that the females use the male vibrational signals to decide whether to enter the burrow. However, females showed no preference for the vibrations once they were inside a burrow, i.e., whether they decided to copulate, suggesting that the vibrations do not independently affect a female's final decision of mate choice. The vibrations inside the burrow might influence a female's decision by interaction with other male traits such as the burrow structure.
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