A new coral-inhabiting gall crab species discovered from Indonesia and Malaysia

April 27, 2015

Fieldwork in Indonesia and Malaysia by researcher Sancia van der Meij from Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands lead to the discovery of a new coral-dwelling gall crab. The new gall crab, named Lithoscaptus semperi, was discovered inhabiting free-living corals of the species Trachyphyllia geoffroyi on sandy bottoms near coral reefs. The study was published in the 500th issue of the open access journal ZooKeys.

Gall crabs are very small - less than 1 cm in size - and live in a 'dwelling' in stony corals. Gall crab larvae settle on a coral as a larvae and the coral then grows around the crab, creating a 'dwelling'. These dwellings are named galls, which explains the common name of the crabs.

Female gall crabs are about two times larger than males. Because of their larger size and the large number of eggs they can carry, they cannot leave their galls and become 'imprisoned'. Males (presumably) can leave their dwellings and move around freely.

'When I started working on gall crabs, I had a hard time finding them because of their small size', says Sancia van der Meij, the author of the study. 'But once I knew how to recognise their dwellings, I realised they are actually very common on coral reefs.'

Host specificity is observed in gall crabs, which means that a gall crab species inhabits one or several closely related coral species. The new gall crab species discovered in this study is so far only known to inhabit Trachyphyllia corals.

The holotype (the name-bearing specimen of this new species) was collected during fieldwork off Kudat in Malaysian Borneo, funded by WWF-Malaysia. 'This study highlights the need to protect our coral reefs', says Robecca Jumin, Head of Marine, WWF-Malaysia. 'New species are still being discovered as the proposed Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) is still largely unexplored'. Once gazetted, the TMP will be the largest marine protected area in Malaysia, encompassing almost a million hectares of mangrove, seagrass and coral reefs.
-end-
Original Source:

Meij SET van der (2015) A new gall crab species (Brachyura, Cryptochiridae) associated with the free-living coral Trachyphyllia geoffroyi (Scleractinia, Merulinidae). ZooKeys 500: 61-72. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.500.9244

Pensoft Publishers

Related Coral Reefs Articles from Brightsurf:

The cement for coral reefs
Coral reefs are hotspots of biodiversity. As they can withstand heavy storms, they offer many species a safe home.

Palau's coral reefs: a jewel of the ocean
The latest report from the Living Oceans Foundation finds Palau's reefs had the highest coral cover observed on the Global Reef Expedition--the largest coral reef survey and mapping expedition in history.

Shedding light on coral reefs
New research published in the journal Coral Reefs generates the largest characterization of coral reef spectral data to date.

Uncovering the hidden life of 'dead' coral reefs
'Dead' coral rubble can support more animals than live coral, according to University of Queensland researchers trialling a high-tech sampling method.

Collaboration is key to rebuilding coral reefs
The most successful and cost-effective ways to restore coral reefs have been identified by an international group of scientists, after analyzing restoration projects in Latin America.

Coral reefs show resilience to rising temperatures
Rising ocean temperatures have devastated coral reefs all over the world, but a recent study in Global Change Biology has found that reefs in the Eastern Tropical Pacific region may prove to be an exception.

Genetics could help protect coral reefs from global warming
The research provides more evidence that genetic-sequencing can reveal evolutionary differences in reef-building corals that one day could help scientists identify which strains could adapt to warmer seas.

Tackling coral reefs' thorny problem
Researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have revealed the evolutionary history of the crown-of-thorns starfish -- a predator of coral that can devastate coral reefs.

The state of coral reefs in the Solomon Islands
The ''Global Reef Expedition: Solomon Islands Final Report'' summarizes the foundation's findings from a monumental research mission to study corals and reef fish in the Solomon Islands and provides recommendations on how to preserve these precious ecosystems into the future.

Mysterious glowing coral reefs are fighting to recover
A new study by the University of Southampton has revealed why some corals exhibit a dazzling colorful display, instead of turning white, when they suffer 'coral bleaching' -- a condition which can devastate reefs and is caused by ocean warming.

Read More: Coral Reefs News and Coral Reefs Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.