Hurley et al. 2016

scientific article | Coral Reefs

An assessment of shallow and mesophotic reef brachyuran crab assemblages on the south shore of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i

Hurley KKC, Timmers MA, Godwin LS, Copus JM, Skillings DJ, Toonen RJ


Shallow coral reefs are extensively studied but, although scleractinian corals have been recorded to 165 m, little is known about other mesophotic coral reef ecosystem (MCE) inhabitants. Brachyuran crabs fill many ecological and trophic niches on reefs, making them ideal candidates for evaluating species composition among depths to ask whether MCEs host the same communities as shallower reef communities that have been well studied. Here we deployed autonomous reef monitoring structures for 2 yr on the south shore of O‘ahu along a depth gradient (12, 30, 60, and 90 m) to sample and assess brachyuran crab communities. A total of 663 brachyuran crabs representing 69 morphospecies (16 families) were found. Community composition was not significantly different within depths, but was highly stratified by depth. Each depth was distinct, but the 30 and 60 m depths were least dissimilar from one another. We show that deeper reefs host significantly different brachyuran communities, and at much lower total abundance, than shallow reefs in Hawai‘i, with 4–27 unique morphospecies per depth and only 3 of 69 morphospecies (~4 %) occurring across the entire depth range sampled.

Research sites
Depth range
12- 90 m

Mesophotic “mentions”
27 x (total of 4483 words)

* Presents original data
* Focused on 'mesophotic' depth range
* Focused on 'mesophotic coral ecosystem'

Community structure
Long-term monitoring


USA - Hawaii

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