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Kommensalische Porzellaniden Aus Der Karibik (Decapoda, Anomura)

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image of Crustaceana

Five species of Porcellanidae from the Caribbean Sea have been found to establish commensal relationships with other animals. In four of the described cases, comparable relationships were found to exist also in the Eastern Pacific. Therefore the origins of the discussed commensalisms are assumed to date prior to the final formation of the Central American land-bridge. In all cases the host provides protection to the commensal crab. In the species Minyocerus angustus (Dana), Polyonyx gibbesi Haig, and Porcellana sayana (Leach) the host serves as an auxiliary substrate which enables the porcellanid crab to colonize soft bottom habitats, normally not suitable for porcellanids. This interpretation is supported by P. sayana whose different hosts are not characterized by systematic relationship but by having the same habitat and by the requirements of the commensal as to the external structure and the habits of the host. The present observations show, that species which are found to live as obligate commensals in a definite geographical region, may be free-living elsewhere under different ecological conditions. As regulating factors, competition and predation are considered.

Affiliations: 1: Institut für Allgemeine und Spezielle Zoologie, Justus-Liebig-Universität, Giessen, B.R. Deutschland


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