Gaya hermit crab project

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Trade-offs between protection by shells for hermit crabs and their walking speed

Land hermit crabs on Gaya Island were tested in an experiment to discern the trade-offs between protection provided by the shell and the walking speed of the hermit crab. 37 empty shells of two types (25 for type I and 12 for type II) were collected and their density calculated by using mass and volume measurements, while operculum sizes were also recorded and used as an estimate of density for shells with hermit crab inhabitants. High correlations of r=0.7 and r=0.5 for shell type I and II respectively were shown between operculum size and density. Walking speed of hermit crabs were tested by measuring the time it took for a hermit crab to walk from the centre of the circle of diameter 2 metres to the edge of the circle. For a sample size of 33 land hermit crabs per shell type, correlations between mean time and the density of the shell of each crab was tested, and were found to be insignificant (p=0.81 and p=0.14 for shell type I and II respectively). Hence, we can conclude that trade-offs between protection (as a scale of density) and walking speed of hermit crabs in the two shell types were not found to be probable in this study.