Student Work

Sheltering & Foraging Behavior in Relation to Mating Season in the Crayfish F. virilis


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In this experiment, we studied the foraging and sheltering behavior in the freshwater crayfish F. virilis. We investigated the effect of sex and reproductive readiness on these behaviors, the individual repeatability of these behaviors, and attempted to identify evidence of a behavioral suite among these two behaviors. Crayfish were tested in two sets of three rounds, one set in the summer non-reproductive season and the other in the fall reproductive season, in assays designed to quantify aspects of shelter use and foraging behavior. We found that reproductive crayfish were more likely than nonreproductive crayfish to engage in the risky but rewarding behaviors of leaving their shelter and foraging for food. We also found that during the summer, when the crayfish are non-reproductive, females are also more likely than males to engage in those behaviors of leaving their shelter and foraging for food. Crayfish with longer carapace lengths were more likely to touch their food, though this was only statistically significant in reproductive crayfish. Nonreproductive males exhibited relatively high repeatability for sheltering times compared to females and reproductive males. All crayfish exhibited relatively high repeatability for latency to touch their food regardless of sex or reproductive season. The foraging and sheltering behaviors did not correlate between individual crayfish, showing no evidence of individual behavioral suites. However, behavioral patterns were found to differ between population groups, suggesting that factors such as sex or reproductive readiness influence behavior more than individual differences.

  • This report represents the work of one or more WPI undergraduate students submitted to the faculty as evidence of completion of a degree requirement. WPI routinely publishes these reports on its website without editorial or peer review.
  • 63606
  • E-project-042622-090945
  • 2022
Date created
  • 2022-04-26
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