Open Access Honors Program Thesis

First Advisor

Carl Thurman

Second Advisor

Melanie Hopkins

Third Advisor

David Saunders


Fiddler crabs--Morphology;Fiddler crabs--Variation;


Among semi-terrestrial fiddler crabs, three species from the subgenus Uca (sensu stricto) appear to be basal in the phylogeny of the genus: Uca major (Herbst 1782-1804), Uca maracoani (Latreille 1802-1803) and Uca tangeri (Eydoux 1835). These species evolved vicariantly as tectonic plates separated to form the Atlantic Ocean. Currently, the three species, found in Africa, South America, and the Caribbean, exhibit a high affinity for their respective tectonic plates. Inter- and intra-specific variation in carapace shape was assessed using geometric morphometrics to analyze 12 surface landmarks in the three species. In 314 female specimens, surficial coordinates were superimposed, standardized, and subjected to canonical variance (CVA) and principal component (PCA) analysis, after which the three species form distinct clusters. Within each species, there are clear differences among populations from northern to southern latitudes. In Uca maracoani, there is a significant correlation between carapace shape and certain environmental factors, such as biotope, salinity, and substrate. As it has not been demonstrated that there is extensive, structured geographic variation in the population genetics for Uca, this polymorphism is likely a result of environmental pressures, i.e., ecophenotypy.

Date of Award


University Honors Designation

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (v, 75 pages)



File Format


Available for download on Monday, January 01, 2018