We investigated whether refuge size or experience with a refuge affected the refuge use of male Orconectes immunis crayfish. Individuals were given choices among seven refuges for 10 consecutive days. Refuges were formed from equal length but different diameter PVC pipe and placed in an array in a random sequence. Three treatments were used. In the Novel Refuge treatment, individuals were placed in a new test arena with a new arrangement of cleaned refuges every day. In the Nonremoval treatment, individuals were left in the same arena with the same set of refuges each day. In the Removal treatment, individuals were removed from the refuges each day but placed back in the same arena with the same set of refuges after the refuges had been cleaned. We found that refuge occupation was correlated with an individual's size; smaller crayfish tended to use smaller refuges than larger crayfish, even though all crayfish could fit in all of the different sized refuges. When first tested, individuals initially chose larger refuges than they would subsequently settle in, suggesting that under duress, they were not as particular about refuge characteristics. Individuals in the Nonremoval and Removal treatments were significantly more consistent in their refuge use than those in the Novel Refuge treatment, suggesting that experience with a particular refuge increased use of that refuge. Individuals from the Novel Refuge treatment that were housed for a month with a single refuge did not increase their use of that sized refuge more than those that were housed without a refuge, indicating that simply occupying a refuge of a given size did not affect refuge preference.
Forsythe, Patrick S.; Wyatt, Deborah S.; and Switzer, Paul V., "Effects of experience and body size on refuge choice in the crayfish Orconectes immunis" (2003). Faculty Research & Creative Activity. Paper 243.