Sponges hosting the zoantharia-associated crab Platypodiella spectabilis at St. Eustatius, Dutch Caribbean
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KeywordsColor Sponge Variable Pattern Dead Coral Marine Biodiversity
Crabs of the genus Platypodiella (Brachyura: Xanthidae) are known for their association with zoantharians (Hexacorallia: Zoantharia), predominantly of the genus Palythoa (Den Hartog and Holthuis 1984; Den Hartog and Türkay 1991). They make cavities inside their zoantharian hosts, which they use as shelter.
Unexpectedly, two small P. spectabilis individuals were found in cavities inside Niphates digitalis (Lamarck, 1814) sponges associated with the parazoanthid Umimayanthus parasiticus (Duchassaing and Michelotti, 1860). These crab dwellings were similar to burrows observed in Palythoa (Fig. 1c). Although N. digitalis was one of the most commonly observed sponges of St. Eustatius, no P. spectabilis was found in sponges without a zoantharian associate.
Fieldwork participation of the first two authors was funded through Martin and Temminck Fellowships, Naturalis Biodiversity Center. St Eustatius Marine Parks (STENAPA), Caribbean Netherlands Science Institute (CNSI) and Scubaqua Dive Center provided support. Mike Harterink of Scubaqua took the photographs in Fig. 1a, b. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.
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