Does size matter? The case of the courtship pyramids in red sea ghost crabs (ocypode saratan)

Reuven Yosef, Michal Korkos, Jakub Z. Kosicki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Display, wherein males attempt to maximize fitness by attracting sexually mature females to mate, is known to drive speciation by Sexual Selection. We researched the Red Sea Ghost Crab (Ocypode saratan; RSGC), in which males build display pyramids to attract females. The study was conducted at the beach in Eilat, Israel. At each session, we measured the height (in cm) of all pyramids and the dimensions (height, breadth; in cm) of the burrow entrance. We assumed that the size of the entrance represented the relative size of the carapace width of the occupant. The mean (± SE) entrance volume was 230.8 ± 11.7 cm, and the height of the pyramid was 11.8 ± 0.49 cm (n = 54). The results of our study did not support our hypothesis because we had expected to find a linear correlation between body size and pyramid height, i.e., the larger the male, the larger the pyramid. However, our results show that the largest males in the population either built small pyramids or not at all, and the cut‐off of the larger crab’s body size appears to be around 350 cm3. We discovered a step‐wise function in the data in that crabs with the smallest body size of ca. 250 cm3 constructed the highest pyramids, with a declining tendency between 250–350 cm3 and extremely low pyramids beyond 350 cm3. However, our findings need to be further studied with a stress on the ambiance and elucidate whether the habitats differ in temperature, humidity, prey‐base, etc., before concluding as to why the larger males desist from building pyramids. This study underwrites the importance of studying the mating systems of the macro‐fauna of the beaches that are fast disappearing owing to anthropogenic development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3541
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Carapace size
  • Red Sea
  • Sand pyramid
  • Sexual selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • General Veterinary


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