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Three way symbiosis between a goby, a shrimp, and a crab


A unique case of triple symbiosis between a goby, a pistol shrimp, and a porcellanid crab sharing the same burrow close to reef patches in Lembeh Strait, Indonesia, is described from direct observations for the first time. The burrow, typically occupied by shrimps and gobies, is shared with the porcellanid Enosteoides lobatus. In the goby–shrimp association, the fish inhabits the burrow, which is constructed and kept clean by the shrimp, and the fish warns the shrimp of potential dangers approaching their refuge. The porcellanid lives in the burrow and also benefits from living in a habitat where it could not survive without the two sentinel species. Because the limiting resource for the suspension-feeding porcellanid is protected space, this liaison is an adaptation by E. lobatus to a symbiotic life in a habitat that protects it from predation, and is optimal for filter feeding.

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NAD-Lembeh, Indonesia, graciously provided to B.C extensive logistic help. H.A. Lessios (STRI) critically read an earlier draft of this mansucript. I. Karplus (Agricultural Research Organization - ARO, Volcani Center, Israel) reviewed this manuscript and kindly helped with identification of fish species. A. Anker (Universidade Federal do Ceará, Brazil) helped identifying the alpheid species. L. Corbari (Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France) provided us with porcellanid material. We thank the editor and reviewers for their contributions to improve this manuscript. This study was supported by a Smithsonian grant to A.H.

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Correspondence to Alexandra Hiller.

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Communicated by R. Thiel

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Werding, B., Christensen, B. & Hiller, A. Three way symbiosis between a goby, a shrimp, and a crab. Mar Biodiv 46, 897–900 (2016).

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  • Goby–shrimp association
  • Gobiidae
  • Alpheidae
  • Porcellanidae
  • Symbiosis
  • Indo-West Pacific