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Evolutionary Ecology of Social and Sexual SystemsCrustaceans as Model Organisms$
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J. Emmett Duffy and Martin Thiel

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195179927

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195179927.001.0001

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The Social Breeding System of the Jamaican Bromeliad Crab Metopaulias depressus

The Social Breeding System of the Jamaican Bromeliad Crab Metopaulias depressus

(p.365) 17 The Social Breeding System of the Jamaican Bromeliad Crab Metopaulias depressus
Evolutionary Ecology of Social and Sexual Systems

Rudolf Diesel

Christoph D. Schubart

Oxford University Press

The Jamaican bromeliad crab Metopaulias depressus lives exclusively in the water-storing leaf axils of bromeliad plants, which provide a supporting microclimate, safety, food, and are expandable and defendable resources. It is suggested that the species evolved extended parental care to ensure reproduction in this scattered microhabitat. Behavioral traits observed in the bromeliad crab are highly suggestive of eusocial behavior. It lives in large colonies consisting of the colony mother and her offspring. Older offspring participate in colony defense, and young adult females stay in their natal colony as subordinate (non-reproductive) females, with the prospect of inheriting their mother's bromeliad as a breeding habitat. Thus, the bromeliad crab has evolved traits that are characteristic of eusocial and cooperatively breeding species. It displays a high degree of sociality that is unique among crabs and represents the pinnacle of a remarkable and swift social evolution from a non-social marine ancestor.

Keywords:   extended parental care, overlapping generations, defense, cooperation, colony inheritance

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