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The American Horseshoe Crab
edited by Carl N. Shuster, Robert B. Barlow and H. Jane Brockmann
Harvard University Press, 2003
Cloth: 978-0-674-01159-5
Library of Congress Classification QL447.7.A44 2003
Dewey Decimal Classification 595.492


The American horseshoe crab that comes ashore on the East Coast in vast numbers to mate and nest is much the same creature that haunted the coast before the time of the dinosaurs. It is among the world's most intensely studied marine invertebrates, critical to our understanding of many groups of organisms, both modern and extinct, and crucial to the ecology of large estuaries such as the Delaware Bay. Some stocks of this great survivor, whose ancestors made it through the mass extinction some 286 million years ago, have been severely depleted today because of overfishing and habitat destruction.

Carl N. Shuster, Jr., H. Jane Brockmann, and Robert B. Barlow are at the forefront of research on Limulus polyphemus, and in this book they bring together twenty scientists who have worked on all aspects of horseshoe crab biology to compile the first fully detailed, comprehensive view of the species. An indispensable resource, the volume describes the horseshoe crab's behavior, natural history, and ecology; its anatomy, physiology, distribution, development, and life cycle; the puzzle of its immune system; and its present management and future conservation.

Table of Contents:

Robert B. Barlow

1. Synchronies in Migration: Shorebirds, Horseshoe Crabs, and Delaware Bay
Mark L. Botton and Brian A. Harrington, with Nellie Tsipoura and David Mizrahi
Research Note 1.1 Physiological Ecology of Shorebirds during Migration through the Delaware Bay Area
Research Note 1.2 The Importance of Weather Systems and Energy Reserves to Migrating Semipalmated Sandpipers

2. Nesting Behavior: A Shoreline Phenomenon
H. Jane Brockmann
Exhibit 2.1 Questions about Behavior
Exhibit 2.2 Decision Making in Animals
Exhibit 2.3 Studying Behavioral Adaptations

3. Male Competition and Satellite Behavior
H. Jane Brockmann
Exhibit 3.1 Language and Explanation in Behavior
Exhibit 3.2 The Process of Fertilization
Exhibit 3.3 Paternity Analysis in Horseshoe Crabs

4. Seeing at Night and Finding Mates: The Role of Vision
Robert B. Barlow and Maureen K. Powers

5. Growing Up Takes about Ten Years and Eighteen Stages
Carl N. Shuster, Jr., and Koichi Sekiguchi
Exhibit 5.1 Paths Taken: How the Authors Got Started

6. Horseshoe Crabs in a Food Web: Who Eats Whom?
Mark L. Botton and Carl N. Shuster, Jr., with John A. Keinath
Research Note 6.1 Predation of Horseshoe Crabs by Loggerhead Sea Turtles

7. A History of Skeletal Structure: Clues to Relationships among Species
Carl N. Shuster, Jr., and Lyall I. Anderson
Exhibit 7.1 Horseshoe Crab Look-Alikes
Exhibit 7.2 What Are Horseshoe Crabs?

8. Throughout Geologic Time: Where Have They Lived?
Lyall I. Anderson and Carl N. Shuster, Jr.

9. Coping with Environmental Changes: Physiological Challenges
David W. Towle and Raymond P. Henry
Exhibit 9.1 Cell Volume Regulation or Blood Ion Regulation?
Exhibit 9.2 Epithelial Cell Structure and Function
Exhibit 9.3 Hemocyanin, the Oxygen-Carrying Protein
Exhibit 9.4 Glossary of Terms

10. Diseases and Symbionts: Vulnerability Despite Tough Shells
Louis Leibovitz and Gregory A. Lewbart
Exhibit 10.1 Dr. Louis Leibovitz
Exhibit 10.2 How to Study a Disease
Exhibit 10.3 Pathological and Biological Terminology
Exhibit 10.4 A Key to the Identi'cation of Diseases of Limulus
Exhibit 10.5 Maintaining Limulus in Captivity

11. A Blue Blood: The Circulatory System
Carl N. Shuster, Jr.

12. Internal Defense against Pathogenic Invasion: The Immune System
Peter B. Armstrong
Exhibit 12.1 Glossary

13. Clotting Cells and Limulus Amebocyte Lysate: An Amazing Analytical Tool
Jack Levin, H. Donald Hochstein, and Thomas J. Novitsky

14. King Crab Fertilizer: A Once-Thriving Delaware Bay Industry
Carl N. Shuster, Jr.

15. Horseshoe Crab Conservation: A Coast-Wide Management Plan
Carl N. Shuster, Jr., Mark L. Botton, and Robert E. Loveland

Authors and Contributors

Reviews of this book:
Overall, The American Horseshoe Crab is a fine compendium of information, one I will refer to frequently. The volume also provides an essential tool for anyone involved with developing the regulations that will be required to protect this intriguing species in perpetuity.
--Mark S. Garland, Science

Reviews of this book:
[This] has to be the most thorough book on this amazing creature ever written or ever likely to be written. It is a compilation of essays by some of the crab's foremost researchers...It would be a sad loss if this book were destined merely for reference shelves and university libraries. Each section has its entry point for the novice, its tidbit of fascinating information, ripe for mining by anyone with an inquisitive mind.
--Sandy Bauers, Philadelphia Inquirer

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