This review of copepod crustaceans associated with reef-dwelling cnidarians, sponges and echinoderms of the Greater Caribbean is based on published records, systematically arranged by the classification of symbiotic copepods and their hosts, sampling sites, coordinates, depth and date of sampling, literature sources, and three recent surveys (Cuba, St. Eustatius in the Eastern Caribbean and Curaçao in the Southern Caribbean). This resulted in totals of 532 records of 115 species of symbiotic copepods (47 genera, 17 families, three orders) hosted by 80 species of invertebrates, representing scleractinians (47%), octocorals (9%), echinoderms (3%), and sponges (1%). Among ten Caribbean ecoregions, the Greater Antilles (with 64 species of symbiotic copepods) as well as the Southern and Eastern Caribbean (with 46 and 17 species of copepods, respectively) are the most studied and best represented, whereas only six species of copepods are known from Bermuda, one from Southwestern Caribbean and none from the Gulf of Mexico. The absence of poecilostomatoid copepods (Anchimolgidae, Rhynchomolgidae and Xarifidae) on Caribbean stony corals as noted by Stock (1988) is confirmed. The results indicate that the diversity and ecology of Caribbean symbiotic copepods are still poorly investigated.
The research goal was to collect symbiotic copepods from most scleractinian species and to inspect common species of octocorals, sponges and echinoderms for the presence of symbiotic copepods in
order to study the cryptic diversity and host specificity of symbiotic copepods by molecular and morphological methods.
This article was published in the following report:
In order to demonstrate how scleractinian corals contribute to marine biodiversity by their host function, information on associated fauna was gathered during a biological survey at St. Eustatius, eastern Caribbean. This knowledge is especially urgent for a host coral such as Helioseris cucullata (Agariciidae), which has undergone strong declines in abundance at various Caribbean localities and has a poor record of associated fauna. New records of H. cucullata as host are presented for the coral gall crab Opecarcinus hypostegus (Cryptochiridae), the Christmas tree worm Spirobranchus giganteus (Serpulidae) and an unidentified serpulid tube worm of the genus Vermiliopsis. A second association record is reported for the coral barnacle Megatrema madreporarum (Pyrgomatidae). Coral-associated copepods were not found on H. cucullata despite a search for these animals. The new records were compared with previous records of other host coral species that showed elements of the same associated fauna. The present findings indicate that new discoveries concerning Caribbean coral reef biodiversity can still be made during field expeditions by targeting the assemblages of associated fauna of specific benthic host species.
Symbiotic Copepoda comprise a widespread, diverse, and abundant ecological group of small crustaceans associat- ed with various invertebrates, including octocorals. Some copepods, such as Lamippidae, are morphologically high- ly modified endoparasites found in galls or other cavities of various species of octocorals (Buhl-Mortensen and Mortensen 2004). Despite previous investigations of sym- biotic copepods inside Caribbean octocorals (Stock 1973), lamippid copepods associated with the common shallow-water sea fan Gorgonia ventalina Linnaeus, 1758, have not been reported so far.