Discovery of a new host coral for a Caribbean parasitic crab species

Agaricia undata with associated gall-crabs (yellow arrows and ellipses) and gall-like structures (white arrows)

Kralendijk Scientists from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, Naturalis Biodiversity Center and the ANEMOON Foundation discovered a new host coral for a Caribbean parasitic crab species.

During one of the scientific expeditions to Bonaire in the Caribbean Netherlands, the scientists found a parasitic gall-crab, Opecarcinus hypostegus, on the previously unknown host coral Agaricia undata (a member of the lettuce corals). With help of DNA-barcoding and pictures taken in the field as well as in the labs, the identity of the coral-inhabiting crab was confirmed. With this record, all species within Agaricia are now listed as hosts of gall-crabs.

“New information on coral-associated fauna leads to a better insight on the diversity, evolution, and ecology of coral reef creatures, particularly in the Caribbean, where gall-crabs have rarely been studied.” – stated the scientists.

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More information

García-Hernández, J.E., de Gier, W., van Moorsel, G.W.N.M., Hoeksema, B.W. (2020). The scleractinian Agaricia undata as a new host for the coral-gall crab Opecarcinus hypostegus at Bonaire, southern Caribbean. Symbiosis:

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