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Hard-shell mating in Neohelice granulata: the role of ecdysone in female receptivity and mate attraction A Neuroethology, sensory, neural, and behavioral physiology

Sal Moyano, María P., Luppi, Tomás, Medesani, Daniel A., McLay, Colin L., Rodríguez, Enrique M.
Journal of comparative physiology 2017 v.203 no.3 pp. 233-243
Decapoda, calcium, crabs, ecdysone, females, males, molting, pheromones, urine
Most brachyuran females become receptive during the intermolt period, a condition considered “derived”. However, as far as we know, studies testing the existence and function of pheromones in decapods are based on species which have mating linked to molting, a condition considered as “ancestral”. For the first time, we studied some physiological and morphological processes involved in Neohelice granulata intermolt female crabs becoming receptive and potentially attracting males. We found that receptive females have mobile vulvae opercula due to a softening process of the cuticle hinge which showed lower calcium levels compared to the hinge of unreceptive females. Local softening of the hinge was stimulated by a low concentration of ecdysone during the intermolt period. A putative pheromone liberated by receptive females to attract males is presumed to be released through the mobile vulvae and not through the urine.