Ladies first

coerced mating in a fiddler crab

Christina J. Painting, William Splinter, Sophia Callander, Tim Maricic, Marianne Peso, Patricia R. Y. Backwell

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1 Citation (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


In some species males increase their reproductive success by forcing females to copulate with them, usually by grasping the female or pinning her to the ground to prevent her from escaping. Here we report an example of males coercing copulation by trapping a female in a confined space. During mate-searching, female Uca mjoebergi fiddler crabs visit males and choose whether or not to enter their burrow for inspection. Males typically enter the burrow first and we found that 71% of females will follow him down and 54% decide to stay and mate. However, some males use an alternative tactic where he will wait for the female to enter the burrow first, after which he traps her inside. Although a significantly lower percentage of females will enter a burrow following this behaviour (41%), upon entry 79% females that enter will become trapped and almost all of these females (90%) produce a clutch of eggs. Our observations suggest that males are able to gain fertilisations from females that may not have remained in the burrow by trapping them and coercing them to mate.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0155707
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2016

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2016. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

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    Painting, C. J., Splinter, W., Callander, S., Maricic, T., Peso, M., & Backwell, P. R. Y. (2016). Ladies first: coerced mating in a fiddler crab. PLoS ONE, 11(6), 1-9. [e0155707].