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Assessing mate size in the red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii: effects of visual versus chemical stimuli
- AQUILONI, LAURA, GHERARDI, FRANCESCA
- Freshwater biology 2008 v.53 no.3 pp. 461-469
- Procambarus clarkii, body size, crayfish, females, information exchange, information systems, males, smell
- 1. Mate assessment requires an efficient system of information exchange between the sexes and often relies on several forms of communication. Both sexes of the crayfish, Procambarus clarkii, select a mate on the basis of its body size, independently of chelar size/symmetry and dominance status, large size being a proxy for a high quality partner. Here, we explored the effects that visual and chemical stimuli, emitted alone or in combination, exert on the assessment of size of a potential mate. 2. We followed a binary choice test paradigm, in which two male or female 'targets', of either large or small size, were simultaneously presented to a female or a male 'chooser'. We recorded the first target visited, the total duration of the visits per target, and the behaviour of the chooser when approaching the target area. 3. Our results show that females require a combination of visual and chemical stimuli to select the larger male. A more complex pattern was found when males were the choosers. While visual and chemical cues together rendered them willing to mate with the larger female, their initial choice and the total time spent near her depended only on smell. In mate assessment by P. clarkii, visual and chemical information seem to act as 'non-redundant signals'.