Exceptional biodiversity of the cryptofaunal decapods in the Chagos Archipelago, central Indian Ocean
Head C., Bonsall MB., Jenkins T., Koldewey H., Pratchett M., Taylor M., Rogers A.
The Chagos Archipelago is geographically remote and isolated from most direct anthropogenic pressures. Here, we quantify the abundance and diversity of decapod crustaceans inhabiting dead coral colonies, representing a standardised microhabitat, across the Archipelago. Using morphological and molecular techniques we recorded 1,868 decapods from 164 nominal species within 54 dead coral colonies, but total species estimates (Chao1 estimator) calculate at least 217 species. Galatheids were the most dominant taxa, though alpheids and hippolytids were also very abundant. 32% of species were rare, and 38% of species were found at only one atoll. This prevalence of rarer species has been reported in other cryptofauna studies, suggesting these assemblages maybe comprised of low-abundance species. This study provides the first estimate of diversity for reef cryptofauna in Chagos, which will serve as a useful baseline for global comparisons of coral reef biodiversity.