Vol. 53, 2014
Influence of habitat heterogeneity on the assemblages and
shell use of hermit crabs (Anomura: Diogenidae)
Wooi Teoh1,2*, Muhammad Ali Syed Hussein1 and
Ving Ching Chong2,3
Marine Research Institute, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Sabah, Malaysia
2Present address: Institute of Biological Sciences,
Faculty of Science, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
3Institute of Ocean & Earth Sciences, Faculty of
Science, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Background: Two contrasting
intertidal habitats on the western Sabah coast (Malaysia), one is a
rocky-sandy-mud flat at Sepangar (N6°02′18.57″; E116°06′40.07″) and the
other is a mangrove foreshore at Sulaman (N6°15′33.00″;
E116°18′49.80″), are characterized by substrate zonation and
homogeneous substrate (mud), respectively. Hermit crabs are one of the
most conspicuous benthic macrofauna at both sites. The study examined
the influence of habitat heterogeneity on the assemblages and shell use
pattern of hermit crabs.
Results: The heterogeneous intertidal flat at
Sepangar (five species) supported a higher diversity and abundance of
hermit crabs compared to Sulaman mangrove foreshore (two species).
Hermit crabs at Sepangar used a greater variety of shells (30 species)
compared to those at Sulaman (two species). Zonation of hermit crab
species occurred at Sepangar where Diogenes
klaasi dominated at the high-tide mark and two Clibanarius species (C. striolatus and C. merguiensis) dominated at the
low-tide mark. Considerable overlap in habitat use (mid- and lower
shore) occurred between D. tumidus
and the two Clibanarius
species which appeared to influence shell use pattern.
Conclusions: This study supports
the work of others showing that structurally complex habitats will
allow habitat partition among species thus explaining the greater
diversity and abundance of hermit crabs. Such a heterogeneous habitat
provides a wider choice of shells for the hermit crabs, minimizing
interspecific competition for the available shell resources.
Key words: Hermit crabs; Diversity; Habitat
heterogeneity; Tropical intertidal.
*Correspondence: E-mail: email@example.com