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image of Journal of Crustacean Biology

ABSTRACT The prevalence and abundance of sessile, external epibionts on 47 malacostracan species (Amphipoda, Hoplocarida, Decapoda) from the Gulf of Thailand were studied. Densities of microepibionts (bacteria, diatoms, protozoa, fungi) and macroepibionts (macrofauna, macroalgae) on carapaces were estimated. Bacteria were detected on every malacostracan species. Between 0.70 × 103 and 28.72 X 103 cells per mm2 were found. The densities on most species were below 1 × 104 mm-2. Diatoms were recorded on 18 species. Diatom densities ranged from 0.02-7.38 X 103 cm-2. Protozoa occurred in very low numbers (maximum = 0.5 X 103 cm-2) on the carapaces. Protozoa were found on 8 species. Fungal spores were detected on 18 species. Their number ranged from 0.1―2.2 cm-2. Macroorganisms were recorded on 9 species. They covered usually less than 10% of the carapace surface. Hyasthenus diacanthus (Majidae) was the most heavily fouled host. An average of 63% of the carapace surface was covered by metazoans (sponges, hydrozoa, actinians, polychaetes, barnacles, ascidians). However, most crabs appeared to be little fouled, indicating that they possess efficient antifouling mechanisms. An investigation of densities of epibionts on 3 species of crabs (Sphaerozius nitidus, Etisus c.f. laevimanus, Metapograpsus quadridentatus), shells of living oysters, and artificial and natural hard substrata collected at the same location showed that crabs were less heavily fouled than the other substrates. Molting, grooming, chemical defense mechanisms, and environmental factors may account for some of the patterns observed in the prevalence and abundance of colonizers on their hosts.


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