Terrestrial hermit crabs play a significant role in coastal ecology. For example, as seed drivers and debris scavengers in coastal forests, they accelerate the decomposition of organic substances for plant use. In the Indian Pacific Ocean, Cenobita rugosus, C. brevimanus, and C. cavipes are the three most common species of terrestrial hermit crab; these species are also widely distributed across the coastal areas of Taiwan. Because the mechanism that contributes to the sympatricism of these three species of crab has not been identified, this study tested the three most important current hypotheses in ecology: differentiation, competition, and predation. The different verification results showed that all three species of terrestrial hermit crab displayed differentiation in terms of active seasons, habitat, utilization of shell resources, and food preference, thus negating the competition hypothesis. In related research on active seasons, the three terrestrial hermit crab species exhibited variation in terms of seasonal quantity. Specifically, the number of C. rugosus crabs is stable throughout the year, C. brevimanus is found mostly in the summer, and C. cavipes is generally seen in the fall. The three species of terrestrial hermit crabs exhibited significant habitat differences in terms of distance from the sea and altitude. In related studies on shell resources, hermit crabs with the same body size exhibited different shell preferences and showed significant differences in shell size. In research on diet, C. brevimanus tended to be carnivorous, C. cavipes tended to be herbivorous, and C. rugosus tended to be omnivorous. Previous research by the author noted the predatory behavior of C. brevimanus. The current research results also proved that C. brevimanus is carnivorous. Therefore, whether this is the major reason for the differing habitats of C. rugosus and C. brevimanus merits further exploration. Finally, the results of this study fully explain why, even though they all live on land, the three species of terrestrial hermit crab utilize their resources effectively, and thus avoid excessive competition that might lead to population decline. The habitat of terrestrial hermit crabs is closely associated with that of humans. Hence, a study of their basic ecology will help create an understanding of the nature of terrestrial hermit crabs and how to conserve them in pond areas.
|Effective start/end date||2017/08/01 → 2018/10/31|
- biological phase
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