This is an interesting study that certainly mirrors my own observations in the tank. I’ve keep hermit crabs since I was a small child, including land hermits. The behavior is the same for them. Hermit crabs are a fascinating part of the reef ecosystem that frequently go unnoticed by hobbyists due to their reputation as coral eaters. Certainly there are some hermit species that will munch on corals but there are several reef-safe species that do wonderfully.
For example the scarlet reef hermit shown in the photo. I’ve keep this hermit for years and normally have a half dozen in my tank. I trust them with all kinds of corals. The Halloween hermit is another crab I trust and which is a fantastic algae eater even eating caulerpa species.
Many people treat hermit crabs the same way they treat snails. They buy them, toss them in, and forget them. However, they are complex animals that live in a colonial society and must be looked after to do well. Studies like this one go a long way to demonstrate what many hermit owners know already, the shell is vital to a happy crab and if you wish to keep your crabs happy that’s the pace to begin.