The present study demonstrates that adult stomatopods prey on their own young as well as those of their major competitors for spatial refuges, crabs and snapping shrimps. Crabs and snapping shrimps also show highly size-dependent predatory interactions, and feed on juvenile stomatopods.
These reciprocal adult-juvenile interactions may be of considerable general importance in systems that include several predators whose feeding habits are size dependent. Furthermore, field distributions of adults, juveniles and larvae, a simulation model based on behavioral interactions among
the three most common species of reef stomatopods, and a natural experiment suggest that adult-juvenile interactions inhibit recruitment of stomatopods in nearshore environments, forcing postlarvae to settle in deeper reefward habitats and migrate inshore at larger sizes. The previously inexplicable
migrations of some reef stomatopods appear to be a consequence of adult-juvenile interactions in nearshore, reproductively favorable habitats. These results are placed in the context of what is known about adult-juvenile interactions in terrestrial, fresh water, and marine (soft bottom, fouling,
rocky intertidal, coral reef) communities. The significance of the present study lies in its suggestion that strong, relatively predictable biotic forces can act upon only a small portion of the population (in this case, in the nearshore environment) while a large proportion of the population
(in the deeper reefward areas) is not subject to density dependent factors. Biotic pressures also are often interrupted (by storm disturbance in the shallow environment). Nevertheless, biotic processes operating in only a segment of the population only part of the time may provide sufficiently
intense selection to explain the dramatic adaptations in color, morphology, and behavior that we commonly see in reef organisms. The controversy regarding recruitment and density dependent vs. density independent processes in marine communities may result from investigators examining different
segments of the population during different parts of long term disturbance cycles.
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