Behaviour 2019
Studying migratory behavior in parading shrimps to inform conservation and ecotourism management
Watcharapong Hongjamrassilp, Deniel T. Blumstein. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States

“Shrimp Parading” is a natural phenomenon in which hundreds of thousands of shrimps collectively climb out of a river and walk toward the headwater at night in Thailand. Over the past 20 years, locals have developed novel cultural practices and ecotourism around shrimp parading. However, little is known about the biology of this mass migration. Preliminary studies found as tourist numbers increased, parading shrimp populations decreased. Understanding the migratory behavior of these shrimps in tandem with how tourists interact with them will allow us to design a conservation and management plan for this ecotourist site. Here, I investigated proximate and ultimate causations of the migration and studied how light from tourists disturb the shrimps. I then developed an ecotourism management plan based on a fundamental understanding of the shrimp migratory behavior and the behavioral responses to different light colors. The parading shrimps play an integral role in local businesses and ecosystems. This behavioral research may help to reduce anthropogenic disturbances brought on by unregulated tourism and conserve these parading shrimp’s unique natural phenomenon for future generations.