What are the sympatric mechanisms for three species of terrestrial hermit crab (Coenobita rugosus, C. Brevimanus, and C. Cavipes) in coastal forests?

Chia Hsuan Hsu, Marinus L. Otte, Chi Chang Liu, Jui Yu Chou, Wei Ta Fang

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Terrestrial hermit crabs play a significant role in coastal ecology. For example, as seed dispersers and debris scavengers in coastal forests, they accelerate the decomposition of organic substances. In the Indo-Pacific Ocean, Coenobita rugosus, C. brevimanus, and C. cavipes are the three most common species of terrestrial hermit crab. Because the mechanisms that contribute to the sympatry of these three species of crab have not been identified, this study investigated the three most likely explanations: niche differences, competition, and predation. The results showed that the three species displayed niche differences in terms of seasonal activity, habitat, utilization of shells, and food preference, suggesting that competition for resources is avoided. The habitat of terrestrial hermit crabs in Taiwan is closely associated with that of humans. Our study helps improve our understanding of the ecology of terrestrial hermit crabs and their conservation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0207640
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Dec


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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