Scientia Marina, Vol 71, No 2 (2007)

Decapod crustaceans associated with the snakelock anemone Anemonia sulcata. Living there or just passing by?

Ricardo Calado
CCMAR Universidade do Algarve, Campus de Gambelas, Faro , Portugal

Gisela Dionísio
CCMAR Universidade do Algarve, Campus de Gambelas, Faro , Portugal

María Teresa Dinis
CCMAR Universidade do Algarve, Campus de Gambelas, Faro , Portugal


The present work identifies the decapod crustaceans that associate with Anemonia sulcata on the southwestern Atlantic coast of Portugal and characterises their host use pattern. It determines whether the anemone is monopolised by any species, resulting in the exclusion of conspecifics or other decapods and, under laboratory conditions, it evaluates the degree of association between each species and A. sulcata. From all sampled anemones, 79% harboured at least 1 decapod crustacean, with the majority displaying either one or two specimens (32 and 24%, respectively). The most abundant species were the shrimp Periclimenes sagittifer and the crab Inachus phalangium (representing 36 and 31% of collected specimens, respectively), which displayed lasting associations and were commonly recorded among the tentacles of the host. The species Eualus occultus, E. complex cranchii, Clibanarius erythropus, Maja brachydactyla, Pilumnus hirtellus and Polybius (Necora) puber displayed short-term associations, were mainly present on the substratum near the base, and avoided the tentacles of A. sulcata. Periclimenes sagittifer and I. phalangium were only recorded alone or in heterosexual pairs, appearing to efficiently defend their host against conspecifics. The majority of recorded species only seem to temporarily associate with A. sulcata, in order to seek protection from predators when other shelters are unavailable.


Anemonia sulcata; associative behaviour; decapod crustaceans

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