Coral Reefs

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 1019–1022 | Cite as

Guard crabs alleviate deleterious effects of vermetid snails on a branching coral

  • A. C. Stier
  • C. S. McKeon
  • C. W. Osenberg
  • J. S. Shima
Note

Abstract

Stony corals provide important structural habitat for microbes, invertebrates, and fishes, which in some cases has led to the evolution of beneficial interactions that may protect corals from environmental factors such as thermal stress, nutrient limitation, competitors, or predators. For example, guard crabs (Trapezia spp.) protect corals (Pocillopora sp.) from attacks by crown-of-thorn seastar and sedimentation. Here, a field experiment demonstrates that guard crabs (Trapezia serenei) also ameliorate the strong negative effects of the giant vermetid (Dendropoma maximum) on growth of Pocillopora. This experiment highlights the importance of this crab-coral mutualism: guard crabs facilitate the growth of corals in stressful environments (e.g., where vermetids are abundant), thereby preserving the ecological goods and services (e.g., food and shelter) that these corals may provide to other reef-associated species.

Keywords

Dendropoma maximum Pocillopora Symbiosis Trapezia 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. C. Stier
    • 1
  • C. S. McKeon
    • 1
    • 2
  • C. W. Osenberg
    • 1
  • J. S. Shima
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Florida Museum of Natural HistoryGainesvilleUSA
  3. 3.School of Biological SciencesVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

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