Coral Guard-Crabs: T. serenei

Copyright David Liittschwager
September 30, 2014
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Copyright David Liittschwager

Small and large crabs belonging to Trapezia serenei (above) proved to be effective coral defenders against a range of predators; the smaller crabs protected the coral from Drupella snails while the larger crabs honed in on mid-sized sea stars. In September 2014, Smithsonian scientists Seabird McKeon and Jenna Moore published new research highlighting the role of diversity in the healthy functioning of coral reef ecosystems, showing that guard-crab species and size classes offer different kinds of effective protection against various threats to coral reefs. (Photo Copyright David Liittschwager)