Shelter preference in the Marmorkrebs (marbled crayfish)

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For many animals, shelters are valuable source to hide from predators. To know acquisition of adequate shelter is important to understand social interactions of animals. Preferences for types of shelter used by the Marmorkrebs (marbled crayfish) were analysed behaviourally. Individual crayfish were presented with a choice between two PVC pipes with four different internal diameters (XL, L, M and S). The time spent in each shelter and the number of times crayfish entered each shelter were measured. Preference ranks of crayfish were XL = L = or > M > S. Our experiments strongly suggested that crayfish chose shelters based first on the diameter of the entrance, and then based on the length of the shelter. Crayfish recognised adequate shelters by visual cues under light conditions and utilised tactile cues from their antennae under dark conditions.

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Figures
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    Activity pattern of the marbled crayfish. Time spent outside the shelter is plotted for each hour from 9:00 to 21:00 h. Crayfish were placed in the experimental container at 9:00 h (N=10).

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    Shelter preferences of crayfish of 4.0–4.5 cm in length. (i) Time spent in the pipe from 13:00 to 18:00 h; (ii) the number of times the crayfish entered the pipe from 13:00 to 18:00 h (N=6). (a) Each crayfish was offered a choice between two XL pipes. (b) Each crayfish was offered a choice between XL and L pipes (N=10). (c) Each crayfish was offered a choice between XL and M pipes (N=10). (d) Each crayfish was offered a choice between XL and S pipes (N=6). No crayfish chose the S pipe during this experiment. p<0.05 and ∗∗∗p<0.001.

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    (a) Each crayfish was offered a choice between L and M pipes. (b) A choice between L and S pipes. (c) A choice between M and S pipes. (d) Each crayfish was offered only an S pipe. (i) The time spent inside the pipe from 13:00 to 18:00 h and (ii) the number of times crayfish that entered the pipe from 13:00 to 18:00 h (N=10 in (a), 8 in (b and c) and 6 (d)). p<0.05, ∗∗p<0.01 and ∗∗∗p<0.001.

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    The number of times the crayfish entered the O pipe plotted against that for the L pipe shown in Figure 2b (N=10).

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    Shelter preferences in crayfish offered two pipes of different lengths. (i) The time spent inside the pipe from 13:00 to 18:00 h and (ii) the number of times crayfish entered the pipe from 13:00 to 18:00 h. (a) Each crayfish was offered a choice between two XL pipes of 2 cm and 4 cm in length. (b) A choice between an XL pipe of 2 cm in length and an L pipe of 4 cm in length. (c) A choice between an XL pipe of 2 cm in length and an M pipe of 4 cm in length. (d) A choice between an XL pipe of 2 cm in length and an S pipe of 4 cm in length (N=8). p<0.05, ∗∗p<0.01 and ∗∗∗p<0.001.

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    Shelter preferences in crayfish of 2 cm in length. (i) The time spent inside the pipe from 13:00 to 18:00 h and (ii) the number of times crayfish entered the pipe from 13:00 to 18:00 h (N=8).

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    Shelter preferences in crayfish with and without antennae. (i) The time spent inside the pipe from 13:00 to 18:00 h and (ii) is shown the number of times crayfish entered the pipe from 13:00 to 18:00 h. (a) Crayfish of 4.0–4.5 cm in length were offered a choice between an XL or M pipe in a dark room with a red LED light. (b) After removal of their antennae, the same crayfish were offered a choice between an XL or M pipe in a dark room with a red LED light, 4 days after the first tests. (c) The same crayfish without antennae were offered a choice between an XL pipe or M pipe under light conditions, 4 days after the second test (N=5). p<0.05 and ∗∗∗p<0.001.

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