Francesca Gherardi Memorial Prize 2014

The 2014 prize for a research on Crustacean Behaviour was awarded to Dr JENNI STANLEY, Post Doctoral Research Fellow at the Institute of Marine Science, University of Auckland, New Zealand, who studied the behavioural response of late-stage crab larvae to ambient underwater sound during settlement.

Prof. Felicita Scapini awards Dr Jenni Stanley

The diploma was an aquarelle by Luigi Scapini

Francesca Gherardi Memorial Event 2014

The event took place the 8th of May 2014 at 14:30 at the Department of Biology, via Romana 17, Firenze, Italy

With the participation of Prof. Elisabetta Cerbai,  the Vice-rector of the University of Florence, Prof. Marco Bazzicalupo, the Director of the Department of Biology, the staff of the Biology Department and the Zoological Museum, students and the Gherardi Family.


Presentation by Dr Jenni A. Stanley
Leigh Marine Laboratory, University of Auckland, PO Box 349, Warkworth 0941, New Zealand

 «Location, location, location: finding a suitable home among the noise»

Abstract of the presentation

While sound is a useful cue for guiding the onshore orientation of larvae because it travels long distances underwater, it also has the potential to convey valuable information about the quality and type of the habitat at the source. Here, we provide, to our knowledge, the first evidence that settlement-stage coastal crab species can interpret and show a strong settlement and metamorphosis response to habitat-related differences in natural underwater sound. Laboratory- and field-based experiments demonstrated that time to metamorphosis in the settlement-stage larvae of common coastal crab species varied in response to different underwater sound signatures produced by different habitat types. The megalopae of five species of both temperate and tropical crabs showed a significant decrease in time to metamorphosis, when exposed to sound from their optimal settlement habitat type compared with other habitat types. These results indicate that sounds emanating from specific underwater habitats may play a major role in determining spatial patterns of recruitment in coastal crab species.


Prof. Francesco Dessì, Dr Laura Aquiloni and Dr Elena Tricarico

presented the special issue of the Journal Ethology Ecology & Evolution in memory of Francesca Gherardi

"Biology of Invasive Species"


Prof. Marco Vannini

reflected on the life and scientific achievements of Prof. Dr Francesca Gherardi

Francesca Gherardi, Somalia, 1986

At the end

the participants to the memorial event were taken on a visit to the astronomical tower of the Natural History Museum, where, in the Stork Room, a meridian line with the zodiac signs is present. Francesca Gherardi remained impressed by the tile for the Cancer sign: it represented not a crab but a crayfish. A reflection on the confusion, in the Florentine areas, between freshwater crabs and crayfishes in their depiction and toponyms, with remarks on their distribution around Florence, was given by her in a local journal (Annuario 1996, Circolo Ricreativo Culturale Antella, Edizioni C.R.C. Antella, pp. 24-26).


Awarded prizes: 2014201520162017201820192020, 2021

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