Host specificity and microhabitat preference of symbiotic copepods (Cyclopoida: Clausiididae) associated with ghost shrimps (Decapoda: Callichiridae, Callianideidae)


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We examined the host specificity of two ectosymbiotic Clausidium Kossman, 1874 copepods (Cyclopoida: Clausiididae) on two co-occurrence species of host ghost shrimps. Our results revealed that both species of symbiotic copepod demonstrated extremely high host specificity. Moreover, within a single host shrimp species, each symbiont species displayed strong spatial patterns in microhabitat selection on their hosts' bodies.Clausidium persiaensisSepahvand & Kihara, 2017, was only found on the hostCallianidea typaMilne Edwards, 1837 and almost exclusively within the host shrimp gill chamber, whileC. iranensisSepahvand, Kihara, & Boxshall, 2019 was only found on the hostNeocallichirus jousseaumei(Nobili, 1904) and showed extremely strong preferences for the chelae and anterior walking legs. We also found that while the number of symbionts tends to increase with the host size, the two host species differed in the degree of symbiont infestation, with largeC. typahosting approximately 7x as many symbionts as the similarly sizedN. jousseaumeia. The mechanisms resulting in the observed differences in infestation levels and microhabitat preferences of clausidium copepods among their hosts, including differences in physiology, burrowing pattern, and host grooming behavior should be further investigated.



Callianidea, Clausidium, Neocallichirus, Persian Gulf