Humans VS Pagurus Berhardus
What is a vacancy chain and how does it relate to people and animals? Hermit Crabs, several species of octopuses and cichlid fish live in and defend empty shells. Limpets hunker down in rocks, Maine and southern Lobsters occupy small caves in coral and rocks. The red-cocked woodpecker carves nest hollows out of the trunks of pine trees. As many of these animals grow larger and older they seek better suited shelters, creating vacancies for other animals. People do exactly the same thing. I will discuss how the study of vacancy chains in animals may help improve the way resources such as apartments, automobiles and jobs are distributed among human beings. We define a vacancy chain as a social structure through which resources are distributed to consumers. In a vacancy chain, a new resource unit that arrives into a population is taken by the first individual in line, who then leaves his/her old unit behind, this old unit is taken by a second individual, leaving his/her old unit behind, and so forth. June 1986 Ivan Chase was the first person to observe an animal making use of what sociologist and economist call a “vacancy chain”. The pagurus berhardus (hermit crab) has a very simple nervous system as well as small brains, but they have sophisticated social behaviors. Studying these animals may help us recognize and improve vacancy chains in our own communities. Sociologists are changing the way they think about economic strategies because of hermit crabs. So how does the hermit crab relate to us as human beings, well Ivan chase dropped an empty snail shell into a shallow tide pool and witnessed a vacancy chain; within minutes a small hermit crab ran toward the shell probed the opening with its claws to measure the size of the interior space and rotated the spiral casing several times to look for holes, then the crab pulled itself out of the old shell and made its way into the new bigger and better shell. A few minutes later, another...
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