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ARTÍCULO
TITULO

Trapezia Crabs That Dwell in Distinctive Day/Night Canopy Compartments of a Marine Animal Forest, Forage on Demersal Plankton

Yaniv Shmuel    
Yaron Ziv and Baruch Rinkevich    

Resumen

Canopies of branching corals harbor a wide range of sessile- and mobile-dwelling species that benefit from the physical compartments and the micro-environments created by the complex three-dimensional structures. Although different compartments within canopies are differentially used by inhabitant species, the distribution of mobile animals between coral canopy compartments are not fully explored. Here, we study Stylophora pistillata, a common branching coral in the Gulf of Eilat that harbors obligatory crabs from the family Trapezia. Two in situ surveys elucidated diel dynamics in compartmental distributions of Trapezia species within S. pistillata canopies compartments, associated with the crab?s body size and day/night activities. Whereas all crabs were found within sheltered spaces in the coral canopy understory or in the base during day hours, laboratory experiments revealed that nighttime distributions of small and large crabs (in middle and up compartments, respectively) are not intraspecific competition-borne, but rather, the outcome of preferred crab-size location for a novel feeding type, predation on demersal plankton. This study, thus, disclosed the importance of studying the coral?s three-dimensional structures and within canopies? compartments for understanding the biology of dwelling species in the animal forests? canopies.

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