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Gastropod predation sites: the role of predator and prey in chemical attraction of the hermit crab Clibanarius vittatus

  • D. Rittschof (a1), C.M. Kratt (a2) and A.S. Clare (a2)


Gastropod shells are essential to most hermit crabs. Shell availability limits hermit crab populations. Shells provide protection and the degree of shell-fit controls crab growth and fecundity. Crabs locate new gastropod shells from a distance under water by molecules released from gastropod flesh during predation events. Here we test the hypothesis that the salivary glands of the predatory gastropod are the source of enzymes that digest muscle proteins and release peptide attractants. We describe the anatomy of both the acinous salivary glands and the tubular accessory salivary glands of Busycon contrarium which are similar to those of B. carica. The salivary gland ducts empty at the mouth, suggesting a role in the primary digestion of food. We show that gastropod muscle proteins, extracted by salt solutions with the ionic strength of sea water and purified by precipitation in low ionic strength can be digested by gastropod salivary gland enzymes to generate peptides attractive to the hermit crab, Clibanarius vittatus, in field assays.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Duke University Marine Laboratory, Pivers Island, Beaufort, North Carolina 28516, USA


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Gastropod predation sites: the role of predator and prey in chemical attraction of the hermit crab Clibanarius vittatus

  • D. Rittschof (a1), C.M. Kratt (a2) and A.S. Clare (a2)


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