Discipline: Biological Sciences
Room: Exhibit Hall A
Francisco J. Torres-Torres - University of Puerto Rico at Cayey
Co-Author(s): Ana D. González-Colón, University of Puerto Rico at Cayey, Cayey, Puerto Rico; Paola N. Negrón-Moreno, University of Puerto Rico at Cayey, Cayey, Puerto Rico; María I. De Jesús-Burgos University of Puerto Rico at Cayey, Cayey, Puerto Rico; Naishka C. Rivera Rosado, University of Puerto Rico at Cayey, Cayey, Puerto Rico
In the coastal regions of Puerto Rico, anthropogenic-related factors such as noise and chemical pollution may fluctuate as the seasons change. These factors may affect the abundance and behavior of organisms of the littoral zone such as Coenobita clypeatus, the Caribbean hermit crab. C. clypeatus’ survival and growth depend on their ability to select an appropriate shell according to their body size. Although few studies have shown that short-term anthropogenic noise exposure has a detrimental effect on hermit crab hiding response (Chan, et al., 2010) and decision-making abilities, no single study exists evaluating the impact of long-term effects of anthropogenic factors on the size, abundance and shell selection of the hermit crab. Through the use of a transept method, we profiled 1,401 animals, describing its major chela, and the shell used. Noise levels were also measured to describe the habitat soundscape. The observations were conducted during late winter and summer, representing periods of low and high anthropogenic activity in the littoral zone, respectively. We hypothesize that with seasonal changes and the potential increase in human beach activity, C. clypeatus will display changes in its abundance, size, and resource assessment. Preliminary results demonstrate C. clypeatus’ shell preference for Astraea tuber (23%), Nerita tessellata (9.3%) and Turbo castanea (8.1%) gastropodes during the winter period. Differently, during the summer season animals prefered Nitidella nitida (45%), Astraea tuber (33%) and Cerithium litteratum (24%) shells. C. clypeatus is more abundant and displays a larger size in the natural reserve in comparison with those observed in highly visited beaches, with non-significant seasonal differences. The size of the major chela and the shell aperture correlates positively in animals observed in both seasons and all beaches assessed. Analyses of the environmental soundscape indicate a significant difference in environmental sound between highly visited- and natural reserve-beaches during late winter (p=0.0100), but no significant during summer (p=0.8166). These findings enhance our understanding of the potential impact of anthropogenic factors on beach ecosystem and its effect on littoral animals. We will conduct further research to establish whether anthropogenic factors such as noise affects C. clypeatus nervous system using behavioral and molecular approaches. This project was supported by NSF CREST: Puerto Rico Center for Environmental Neuroscience (HRD 1736019).
Funder Acknowledgement(s): NSF CREST Support Puerto Rico Center for Environmental Neuroscience (HRD 1736019)
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Maria De Jesus Burgos, email@example.com
Role: I have worked on this research project since it began. As such I have participated in the experimental design, literature review, data collection and analysis. Data collection entails visiting the research site and conducting ecological studies such as decibel measurements and hermit crab profiling through a transept method.