Analyzing Impacts of Multiple Environmental Variables on Minuca pugnax Behavioral Thermoregulation



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The salt marsh dwelling fiddler crab Minuca pugnax is an intertidal ectotherm that navigates an environmentally variable habitat through using burrows for behavioral thermoregulation. Behavioral thermoregulation in fiddler crabs is impacted by multiple environmental variables. In this study, I examined the impacts of surface and burrow temperatures, density of conspecifics, and tidal height on duration of burrow retreat and surface activity in male M. pugnax. I analyzed video, temperature, and tidal height data recorded on Sapelo Island, GA in August 2019 and developed linear regression models informed by correlation analyses. I found that the duration of surface activity was impacted by changes in surface temperature, burrow temperature, and density of conspecifics. As surface temperature increased, the duration of surface activity decreased. As density of conspecifics increased, duration of surface activity also increased. However, density and surface temperature were correlated. The duration of burrow retreat was not impacted by any environmental variable. The average duration of burrow retreat was much shorter and more consistent than the average duration of surface activity, suggesting that crabs cool rapidly in burrows. These preliminary data illustrate the complex relationship between M. pugnax and its salt marsh environment.



Fiddler Crab, Minuca pugnax, Thermoregulation, Behavioral Thermoregulation, Thermal Ecology, Salt Marsh, Intertidal Organisms