The mating associations of brachyuran crabs are reviewed and classified according to apparent modes of competition among males for mates. Males obtain mates in three general ways: they may compete directly for females and then defend them for relatively long periods before mating (female
centered competition), they may compete for resources females use during breeding or refuges they occupy (resource centered competition), or they may search for or intercept receptive females but defend neither females nor resources (encounter rate competition). Male modes of competition for
females are influenced by patterns of predation, competitor density, female density, distribution, mobility, habitat requirements for breeding and mate choice. Some form of mate guarding, multiple copulations and sperm plugs occur in nearly every type of mating association. Sperm competition
may be common in brachyurans and may have a pervasive influence on male competitive tactics.
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