Female Mate Choice in the Fiddler Crab Uca Musica: The Role of Sand Structures in Mate Attraction



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Fiddler crabs (genus Uca) are ideal species for investigating mate choice, in which male or female preference for mates can drive the evolution of sexually dimorphic characteristics. I studied female choice for sand hoods built by males in the species Uca musica at a field site in Kino Bay, Mexico, on the Gulf of California. I demonstrate that hood-building males spent more time waving and less time feeding than non-hood building males, and mate-searching females preferentially approach males with hoods. Mate-searching females preferred taller model hoods in the absence of males, but showed no such preference in the presence of males. My data indicate that female fiddler crabs use hoods to gain information about potential mates, but I did not find conclusive evidence for the relationship between hood height and female mate choice. The variation in female mate-searching preference could be the result of adjustable threshold mate-searching tactics or different use of information from multiple male signals (such as male size, claw waving displays, or burrow quality) by individual females.



Fiddler crab, mate choice, hood, signal