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

Yaniv Shmuel, Yaron Ziv, Baruch Rinkevich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1522
JournalJournal of Marine Science and Engineering
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2022


  • Eilat
  • Stylophora
  • Trapezia
  • branching coral
  • coral canopy
  • diurnal
  • habitat complexity
  • marine animal forest
  • zooplankton

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ocean Engineering


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