Food types, feeding habits and food storage in an intertidal crab (Pilumnus vespertilio) were investigated on Okinawa, a subtropical island of Japan. Food species were identified by observing the feeding in the natural habitat and from stomach contents. Feeding patterns (on a
daily and monthly basis) and storage of food material were also investigated and compared between females and males in terms of stomach fullness and hepatopancreas indices. During the most active period (June–August), P. vespertilio obtained food by surface scrubbing of the coralline
encrusted algae. This scrubbing behaviour ceased in August and from September the feeding pattern included carrying into burrows either objects laden with algae or animal food source. More than 22 algal species were identified to be eaten by P. vespertilio, and the most common species
was Gelidium pussilum (Rhodophyta). Animals like the brittle star (Ophiocoma scolopendrina) were also eaten, although in much smaller amounts than algal food. Female crabs had higher daily and monthly stomach fullness indices compared with the male crabs. The utilization of stored
food material (in the hepatopancreas) was remarkably higher in females than in males, especially during the reproductive period. The results suggest that the feeding and food storage patterns are significantly different between the sexes in P. vespertilio.
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