Marine Science in the News: Hitch hiking coral and hermit crab symbionts



A recently discovered species of shell-less hermit crab was found living in a walking coral’s cavity, replacing the usual marine worm symbiont! This new hermit crab species was recently discovered in shallow waters of southern Japan. Instead of a shell on its back the crab was found living in corallums (living skeletons) of solitary walking corals. These corals usually have species of marine worm living inside of them, but the new hermit crab (Diogenes heteropsammicola) replaced the usual worm symbiont.


D. heteropsammicola is the only known hermit crab to partner with a living coral. The hermit crab and the coral have a mutually beneficial relationship: the hermit crab prevents the coral from being buried in sea floor sediments by carrying it and providing transportation, and the coral provides shelter and protection for the hermit crab. In this specialized codependence, it is usually impossible to replace either partner with a different species.




While most hermit crabs have an asymmetrical tail which fits into the coil of their seashell homes, D. heteropsammicola has a symmetrical tail which may have better adapted it to walking corals. This relationship is advantageous for the hermit crab because the living coral can grow alongside the crab so the crab never outgrows the coral like it would with a shell.


Read more about this new partnership via ScienceDaily, or click on the journal citation below to read the full article for free.


Journal reference:

Igawa, M. and M. Kato. 2017. A new species of hermit crab, Diogenes heteropsammicola (Crustacea, Decapoda, Anomura, Diogenidae), replaces a mutualistic sipunculan in a walking coral symbiosis. PLOS ONE, 12(9):e0184311. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0184311.


Tags: symbiosis ocean discoveries new species hermit crabs corals

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Archive
Search By Tags
Follow Us

Subscribe for Updates

ADDRESS

500 Discovery Parkway

Redwood City, CA 94063

info@sfbaymsi.org

Tel: 650-364-2760

Click here for directions

facebook fish logo.png
instagram.png
Twitter fish logo.png
linkin.png

Marine Science Institute is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) not for profit organization. Federal Tax ID# 94-1719649

© 2020 All Rights Reserved  

Inspiring respect and stewardship for the marine environment through experiential learning

Thank you to our generous supporters who donated more than $25,000
kabcenell_logo
westpoint harbor
noaa1
Bohannon Foundation
Morgan Fam Fdn
HSF_logo_horiz_RGB_large crop 4
lesherlogo
JVLF Logo