The scleractinian Agaricia undata as a new host for the coral-gall crab Opecarcinus hypostegus at Bonaire, southern Caribbean
The Caribbean scleractinian reef coral Agaricia undata (Agariciidae) is recorded for the first time as a host of the coral-gall crab Opecarcinus hypostegus (Cryptochiridae). The identity of the crab was confirmed with the help of DNA barcoding. The association has been documented with photographs taken in situ at 25 m depth and in the laboratory. The predominantly mesophotic depth range of the host species suggests this association to be present also at greater depths. With this record, all seven Agaricia species are now listed as gall-crab hosts, together with the agariciid Helioseris cucullata. Within the phylogeny of Agariciidae, Helioseris is not closely related to Agaricia. Therefore, the association between Caribbean agariciids and their gall- crab symbionts may either have originated early in their shared evolutionary history or later as a result of host range expansion. New information on coral-associated fauna, such as what is presented here, leads to a better insight on the diversity, evolution, and ecology of coral reef biota, particularly in the Caribbean, where cryptochirids have rarely been studied.
Keywords Associated fauna . Brachyura . Coral reefs . Cryptochiridae . Marine biodiversity . Symbiosis