Grooming behaviors and gill fouling in the commercially important blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) and stone crab (Menippe mercenaria)

2017-10-01T09:09:00Z (GMT) by Jen L. Wortham Stephanie Pascual
<div><p>Abstract Grooming behaviors reduce fouling of body regions. In decapods, grooming time budgets, body regions groomed, and grooming appendages are known in several species; however, little data exists on brachyuran crabs. In this study, grooming behaviors of two commercially important crabs were documented (blue crabs: Callinectes sapidus Rathbun, 1896; stone crabs: Menippe mercenaria Say, 1818). These crabs are harvested by fishermen and knowing their grooming behaviors is valuable, as clean crabs are preferred by consumers and the stone crab fishery consequence of removing one cheliped to grooming behaviors is unknown. Crabs were observed individually and agonistically to determine how grooming behaviors vary in the presence of another conspecific. Both species frequently use their maxillipeds and groom, with the gills being cleaned by epipods. Respiratory and sensory structures were groomed frequently in both species. Removal of a grooming appendage resulted in higher fouling levels in the gills, indicating that grooming behaviors do remove fouling. Overall, stone crabs had a larger individual time budget for grooming, but agonistic grooming time budgets were similar. Stone crab chelipeds are used in grooming, especially cleaning the other cheliped. The chelipeds are not the main grooming appendage; however, implications of losing one cheliped may have large impacts.</p></div>