Boldness related to size in the hermit crab Coenobita compressus at undisturbed, but not disturbed beach

Mackenzie E. Hewes, Johel Chaves-Campos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is growing interest in the consequences of consistent individual behavioral differences within and between populations. We compared the magnitude, repeatability, and plasticity of boldness in the terrestrial hermit crab Coenobita compressus in three habitats with different degrees of disturbance in Costa Rica. We encourage researchers to test additional sites to assess the generality of our results. Boldness decreased with crab size at the less disturbed sites, while no relationship between size and boldness was found at the disturbed site. Boldness increased with habitat disturbance, perhaps because bolder crabs succeed in exploiting food around people. Repeatability and plasticity were similar across sites. We hypothesize that population differences may be the result of developmental plasticity when aquatic larvae settle on a beach or selection for boldness at the disturbed site acting on each new generation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)570-578
Number of pages9
Issue number8
Early online date19 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • behavioural flexibility
  • behavioural plasticity
  • habitat disturbance
  • hermit crab
  • personality


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