The aim of the present study was to characterize the patterns of gastropod shell utilization by the hermit crab Clibanarius zebra (Dana, 1852) from four different sites along the Saurashtra coast, Gujarat state, India. A total of 404 individuals of hermit crab were captured (223 males, 147 females and 34 ovigerous females), occupying 22 species of gastropod shells. Maximum species diversity of shells occupied by the crab was observed at Veraval. Amongst all the shell species identified, Cerithium scabridum (36.88 %) was highly occupied by the crab species followed by Astra stellata (11.39 %), Turbo intercostalis (10.64 %), Cerithidia cingulata (9.16 %) and Lunella coronata (7.43 %). Males of C. zebra utilized a wide range of shell species (21 species), while non ovigerous females (13 species) and ovigerous females (7 species) use a specific set of gastropod shell species. The density of live common shell species occupied by C. zebra was also calculated and results revealed that the density of C. scabridum was very high in the intertidal zone compared to other gastropods. This indicates that density of shells may influence the utilization of shells by C. Zebra.
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