Date of Award

Summer 2010

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences

Committee Chair

Patricia Biesiot

Committee Member 2

Renae Brodie

Committee Member 3

Robert Diehl


Much of fiddler crab behavior is regulated by the tides and centers around their burrows. Field and laboratory studies were conducted to assess the effect of food availability on burrowing in the Gulf coast fiddler crab, Vea panacea. In the field, crabs were observed for droving behavior through visual observations; evidence for this behavior was assessed further by determining sediment organic content. Although the organic content did increase significantly as distance increased from the edge of the water, fiddler crabs did not exhibit droving behavior at my study site. Field burrows were cast and measured for depth, diameter and volume to determine if burrow size changed as distance increased from the water. Burrow size did not differ significantly based on distance from the water. In the laboratory, males and females were randomly assigned to either low food (0.2% sediment organic content) or high food (1.5% sediment organic content) treatments for a period of 12 d; plaster casts of burrows were measured as above. When male and female results were pooled, there was a significant difference between low and high food treatments in burrow depth, diameter and volume. When crabs were grouped by carapace width into small (8.0-11.0 mm) and large (11.1-15.0 mm) size classes, diameter was the only burrow parameter that differed significantly. Food availability did affect some aspects of fiddler crab burrowing behavior; understanding what affects burrowing may shed light on fiddler crab importance and impact on ecosystem composition and processes.