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Image of Atlantic marsh fiddler
Unresolved name

Atlantic Marsh Fiddler

Uca pugnax

Behavior

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Uca pugnax communicate visually and audibly. Male U. pugnax produce visual and acoustical displays to attract their mates. Precopulatory male fiddler crabs wave their major cheliped in a circular motion to generate one form of these acoustical signals. The male marsh fiddler crabs also vibrate the bottom sediment by stamping their walking legs.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: pheromones ; vibrations

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; vibrations ; chemical

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The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Vinton, C. 2002. "Uca pugnax" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Uca_pugnax.html
author
Carol Vinton, Hood College
editor
Maureen Foley, Hood College
editor
Renee Sherman Mulcrone
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Conservation Status

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There is currently no conservation data available for U. pugnax.

US Migratory Bird Act: no special status

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

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copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Vinton, C. 2002. "Uca pugnax" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Uca_pugnax.html
author
Carol Vinton, Hood College
editor
Maureen Foley, Hood College
editor
Renee Sherman Mulcrone
original
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Life Cycle

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After hatching U. pugnax larvae progress through five stages of zoea (lasting anywhere from one week to a month) and one megalops stage (lasting 4 days to a month). Megalops further metamorphose into the first juvenile crab stage (lasting a few days). At this stage in its life U. pugnax attaches to a hard substrate. The second and third stage juvenile crab stages last for a combined total of approximately 10 days. Atlantic marsh fiddlers are mature after one year. Uca pugnax molts one to two times per year.

The enlarged claw of the male Atlantic marsh fiddlers is a result of sexual selection. This claw, or chelea, enlarges to almost half the male's body weight. The larger chelea is both an advantage and hindrance. In displays of aggression the male with the larger chelea is usually the victor, but the male with the larger claw is at a disadvantage in burrow construction and foraging.

Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis

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The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Vinton, C. 2002. "Uca pugnax" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Uca_pugnax.html
author
Carol Vinton, Hood College
editor
Maureen Foley, Hood College
editor
Renee Sherman Mulcrone
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Benefits

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Uca pugnax do not directly benefit humans.

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The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Vinton, C. 2002. "Uca pugnax" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Uca_pugnax.html
author
Carol Vinton, Hood College
editor
Maureen Foley, Hood College
editor
Renee Sherman Mulcrone
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Associations

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Uca pugnax affects nutrient cycles and energy flow throughout the salt marsh. Atlantic marsh fiddlers' burrows increase soil drainage, increase the amount of nutrients available in the soil, and allow plants to penetrate further into the soil. The bioturbation of the species stimulates algal growth and oxygenates the sediment. The undigestable fecal pellets released also contribute organic nitrogen to the soil.

Ecosystem Impact: creates habitat; soil aeration

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The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Vinton, C. 2002. "Uca pugnax" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Uca_pugnax.html
author
Carol Vinton, Hood College
editor
Maureen Foley, Hood College
editor
Renee Sherman Mulcrone
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Trophic Strategy

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Uca pugnax emerge from their burrows at low tides to feed. Uca pugnax are filter feeders, feeding on detritus. This species feeds by scooping mud into their mouths and filtering out the detritus. The detritus is separated from the mud by water pumped through their gills. The digestible material is separated from the undigestible material within the gut, and the undigestable material is deposited as fecal pellets. Uca pugnax takes in approximately 0.4 g of material in six hours.

Foods eaten have been estimated to be 33% diatoms, 25% fungi, 20% vascular plants, 20% unknown material.

Plant Foods: algae; phytoplankton

Other Foods: fungus; detritus ; microbes

Foraging Behavior: filter-feeding

Primary Diet: herbivore (Algivore); planktivore ; mycophage ; detritivore

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copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Vinton, C. 2002. "Uca pugnax" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Uca_pugnax.html
author
Carol Vinton, Hood College
editor
Maureen Foley, Hood College
editor
Renee Sherman Mulcrone
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Distribution

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Neartic: Uca pugnax lives predominately along the Mid-Atlantic coast of the United States.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

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bibliographic citation
Vinton, C. 2002. "Uca pugnax" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Uca_pugnax.html
author
Carol Vinton, Hood College
editor
Maureen Foley, Hood College
editor
Renee Sherman Mulcrone
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Habitat

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Uca pugnax lives in saltmarshes along the Mid-Atlantic coast. Marsh fiddler crabs construct burrows that are utilized for mating, rest, and "hibernation" during the winter. The burrows of U. pugnax also serve as refuge from predators, heat, and incoming tides. Burrows are approximately 1.3 cm wide and are between 30.5 cm and 92 cm deep. Commonly located in sandy and muddy substrates, burrows may end in a small room or be connected with other burrows. During high tide, U. pugnax plug their burrows with mud. Often these burrows are found near hard structural elements or grass stems in areas of intermediate root mat density.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; saltwater or marine

Aquatic Biomes: coastal ; brackish water

Wetlands: marsh

Other Habitat Features: estuarine ; intertidal or littoral

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The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Vinton, C. 2002. "Uca pugnax" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Uca_pugnax.html
author
Carol Vinton, Hood College
editor
Maureen Foley, Hood College
editor
Renee Sherman Mulcrone
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Life Expectancy

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The expected lifespan in the wild is one to 1.5 years.

Typical lifespan
Status: wild:
1 to 1.5 years.

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cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Vinton, C. 2002. "Uca pugnax" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Uca_pugnax.html
author
Carol Vinton, Hood College
editor
Maureen Foley, Hood College
editor
Renee Sherman Mulcrone
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Morphology

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The sexually dimorphic Atlantic marsh fiddlers can be found to be up to 16 mm long and 26 mm wide. The average male carapace is 15 mm long and 23 mm wide, while the average female carapace is 13 mm long and 18 mm wide. The males are dark olive to almost black in color with a royal blue spot on the center of its carpace. Female U. pugnax are of similar color as the males, but do not have the blue spot. Either one of the male's chelea may grow until it is half of the crabs body weight, while the claws of the female are isomorphic. The chelea are brownish yellow at the base with white fingertips in both sexes. Uca pugnax have slender eyestalks and dark banded walking legs. The dorsal carapace of U. pugnax is flattened rather than convex as in other similar species of crabs.

Range length: 13 to 23 mm.

Average length: 16 mm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

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cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Vinton, C. 2002. "Uca pugnax" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Uca_pugnax.html
author
Carol Vinton, Hood College
editor
Maureen Foley, Hood College
editor
Renee Sherman Mulcrone
original
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Associations

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Uca pugnax retreat to their burrows when threatened.

Known Predators:

  • pigfish (Orthopristic chrysoptera)
  • channel bass (Sciaenops ocellatus)
  • bighead searobins (Prionotus tribulus)
  • white catfish (Ameiurus catus)
  • white ibis (Eudomcimis albus)
  • clapper rails (Rallus longirostris)
  • cattle egrets (Bulbulcus ibis)
  • blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus)
  • raccoons (Procyon lotor)
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Vinton, C. 2002. "Uca pugnax" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Uca_pugnax.html
author
Carol Vinton, Hood College
editor
Maureen Foley, Hood College
editor
Renee Sherman Mulcrone
original
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Reproduction

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Uca pugnax reproduce sexually, forming "lek-like" communal breeding assemblages. These leks are gatherings where the males of the species display, "fiddling" with their major cheliped, to attract females to their burrows.

Mating System: polygynous

Male U. pugnax produce visual and acoustical displays to attract their mates. Precopulatory male fiddler crabs wave their major cheliped in a circular motion to generate one form of these acoustical signals. The male marsh fiddler crabs also vibrate the bottom sediment by stamping their walking legs. Female U. pugnax then follows the male to the burrow to copulate. Unlike many other crabs, copulation takes place when the exoskeleton of the female is in the hardened state.

After mating, female U. pugnax release the fertilized eggs onto their abdominal flap in a spongy cluster. Eggs hatch and are released after several months. The number of progeny range from 4,500 to 23,700 eggs. Female U. pugnax release the hatched larvae on the nocturnal high tide.

Breeding season: Lower lat - April to Sept; Upper lat - July to August

Range number of offspring: 4,500 to 23,700.

Average number of offspring: 14,100.

Average gestation period: 2 hours.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 1 years.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); oviparous

After mating, female U. pugnax release the fertilized eggs onto their abdominal flap in a spongy cluster. Eggs hatch and are released after several months. Female U. pugnax release the hatched larvae on the nocturnal high tide.

Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning); pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Protecting: Female)

license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Vinton, C. 2002. "Uca pugnax" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Uca_pugnax.html
author
Carol Vinton, Hood College
editor
Maureen Foley, Hood College
editor
Renee Sherman Mulcrone
original
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Animal Diversity Web