Brachyuran and anomuran crabs associated with Schizoporella unicornis (Ectoprocta, Cheilostomata) from southeastern Brazil
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The main goals of this investigation were to describe the community structure of anomuran and brachyuran crabs inhabiting reefs constituted by colonies of Schizoporella unicornis, and to provide a species importance ranking for this community. Collections were carried out on S. unicornis reefs at two-month intervals from May 2003 to May 2004, in the rocky sublittoral of the southeastern Brazilian coast. Relative abundance and occurrence were used to rank these species in the hierarchy importance. A total of 2,018 individuals were obtained, in 11 families, 22 genera and 31 species. Porcellanidae and Pilumnidae were the most abundant families, comprising respectively almost 60% and 15% of individuals sampled. The species ranking indicated four main groups A, B, C and D, with group A subdivided. Subgroup A1 contained 9 species, including the species of greatest ecological importance for community regarding abundance and occurrence. The great abundance of crabs associated with S. unicornis seems to be the result of its recognized importance during the crab developmental cycle, and as shelter and food for some Decapod species. These observations reveal the importance of conserving the areas occupied by these reef colonies, which appear to be an important environment for maintaining local biodiversity.