Rachel L. Crane, Ph.D.
Evasive prey and high-speed chases
3D aerial pursuit by dragonflies
Armored prey and armor-breaking predators
Fatigue and repair of bivalve shells
Mantis shrimp behavioral strategy
Working in Sheila Patek's lab, Rachel studied how mantis shrimp (Stomatopoda) manipulate prey. Mantis shrimp possess a specialized front appendage to smash and fracture hard-shelled prey at accelerations up to 1.5x105 m/s2 and speeds up to 30 m/s. Research on predation by mantis shrimp often focuses on how impressive this strike is. However, mantis shrimp can require hundreds of strikes to crack a snail shell sufficiently to obtain food.
Rachel's research has shown that these strikes are carefully targeted to efficiently crack open the shell, and that mantis shrimp change strategy depending on shell shape. Mantis shrimp predation success relies not just on a powerful weapon, but also on the behavioral flexibility to use it effectively with different prey.