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Symbiosis of sea anemones and hermit crabs in temperate seas
Antoniadou, C.; Vafeiadou, A.-M.; Chintiroglou, C. (2012). Symbiosis of sea anemones and hermit crabs in temperate seas, in: Camisão, A.F. et al. Symbiosis: evolution, biology and ecological effects. pp. 95-118
In: Camisão, A.F.; Pedroso, C.C. (2012). Symbiosis: evolution, biology and ecological effects. Nova Science Publishers: New York. ISBN 978-1-62257-211-3. 266 pp., more

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  • Antoniadou, C.
  • Vafeiadou, A.-M., more
  • Chintiroglou, C.

    Symbiosis, according to its initial meaning, refers to the biological interaction between two organisms living in close association. However, this definition is rather controversial, with the term being often used generically, since the outcome can vary across a continuum from negative to positive interactions. Symbiosis is a widespread phenomenon in temperate marine communities, and the association between sea anemones and hermit crabs belongs to the most common cases, being a familiar example of mutualism. In these latter specific cases of interactions gastropod shells are involved as prerequisite, since they provide both refuge for hermit crabs and substratum for the settlement of sea anemones; thus, shell resource availability is crucial for the establishment of this particular type of symbiosis. Within this context the present study aims to integrate the results of various studies to provide a general review about the symbiotic interactions of sea anemones and hermit crabs in temperate seas, addressing the following issues: (1) clarify the relevant terminology, which is differently interpreted by various authors; (2) provide a general description of the sea anemone - hermit crab association, as most studies examine separately the species involved and not the symbiosis as a whole; (3) assess the diversity and distribution of sea anemone - hermit crab associations in temperate seas, also incorporating gastropod shells and their availability, which although crucial, has been only little investigated; (4) address the behavioural patterns of both symbionts for the establishment of the symbiosis, including as well the behavioural plasticity of hermit crab related to shell resource utilization, and (5) report relevant information about co-evolution of the participant species, referring to the existing hypotheses on the evolution of the symbiosis, underlining its importance.

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