Data from: Distracted decision-makers: ship noise and predation risk change shell choice in hermit crabs
Tidau, Svenja; Briffa, Mark (2019), Data from: Distracted decision-makers: ship noise and predation risk change shell choice in hermit crabs, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.4sm0dq1
Human induced rapid environmental change such as noise pollution alters the ability of animals to integrate information cues. Many studies focus on how noise impacts single sensory channels but in reality animals rely on multi-modal sources of information. In this study, we investigated the effect of anthropogenic noise and the visual presence of a predator on tactile information gathering during gastropod shell assessment in the European hermit crab Pagurus bernhardus. For hermit crabs, empty gastropod shells are a crucial resource affecting growth, reproduction and survival. We measured shell assessment behavior and manipulated (i) the shell size (50% or 80% of the optimal), (ii) sound condition (ship or ambient) and (iii) visual predator cue (absence/ presence). Overall we found that crabs were less likely to accept an optimal shell in the presence of ship noise, suggesting that exposure to ship noise disrupted the information gathering ability of the crabs. We also found a significant interaction between noise, predator presence and shell size on the mean duration for the final decision to accept or reject the optimal shell. Hermit crabs in 50% shells took less time for their final decision when exposed to both ship noise and predator cue while crabs in 80% shells showed shorter decision time only when the predator cue was absent. Our results indicate that anthropogenic noise can interact with predation threat and resource quality to change resource acquisition, suggesting that noise pollution can disrupt behavior in a non-additive way, by disrupting information use across multiple sensory channels.