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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 234:183-190 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/meps234183

Copulation pheromone in the crab Telmessus cheiragonus (Brachyura: Decapoda)

Michiya Kamio, Shigeki Matsunaga, Nobuhiro Fusetani*

Laboratory of Aquatic Natural Products Chemistry, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Tokyo, 1-1-1 Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8657, Japan
*Corresponding author. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Animals employ multi-step mate recognition processes to mate with their proper partners, for a given mating season. The signals used in mate recognition in Crustacea are fairly well studied, but these studies have so far focused on the signals used in precopulatory (or courtship) behavior. Signals that mediate copulation have never been experimentally demonstrated. Here, we report the presence of a copulation pheromone in the crab Telmessus cheiragonus which was previously undescribed in brachyuran Crustacea. This pheromone is released from postmolt females for more than 21 d after molting and evokes copulation behavior in male crabs. The postmolt female urine that contains precopulatory mate-guarding-inducing pheromone did not induce copulatory behavior in male crabs. Postmolt females that were prevented from releasing urine still elicited copulation behavior in males, thereby indicating that the pheromone is different from a pheromone that elicits precopulatory guarding in males. The copulation pheromone is a water-borne pheromone with a molecular weight of less than 1 kDa. T. cheiragonus employs 1 pheromone that elicits precopulatory guarding and another pheromone that elicits copulation. This strategy ensures mating between proper partners.

KEY WORDS: Copulation pheromone · Crustacea · Crab · Mate recognition · Telmessus cheiragonus

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