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Fossil record shows crustaceans vulnerable as modern coral reefs decline
Date:9/23/2013

nd 1,298 species. They examined the patterns of diversity and found an increase in the number of decapod species was influenced by the abundance of reefs, largely due to the role of reefs as a provider of shelter and foraging. Researchers call this period the "Mesozoic decapod revolution" because of the 300-fold increase in species diversity compared with the previous period and the appearance and rapid evolution of crabs.

Compiling information about crustaceans on this scale has historically been a challenge for researchers because most decapods possess a fragile and weakly calcified exoskeleton that does not fossilize well.

"Only a scant fraction of decapod crustaceans is preserved in rocks, so their fossil record is limited," said study co-author Michal Kowalewski, curator of invertebrate paleontology at the Florida Museum. "But, thanks to efforts of paleontologists many of those rare fossils have been documented all around the world, finally giving us a chance to look at their evolutionary history in a more rigorous, quantitative way."

"This new work builds a good case for the role of reefs in promoting the evolutionary diversification of crustaceans," said David Jablonski, a paleontologist in the department of geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago who was not involved in the study. "We have to take their argument for the flipside of that story very seriously. The positive relation between reefs and crustaceans implies that the damage caused to reefs by human activities from overfishing to ocean acidification is likely to have cascading consequences for associated groups, including crustaceans."

Jablonski said the study could serve as an important springboard for future research.

"It would be very interesting to extend this analysis into the Cenozoic Era, the 65 million years leading up to the present day," Jablonski said. "And it would be valuable to look at the spatial structure of the crustacean diver
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Contact: Adiël Klompmaker
aklompmaker@flmnh.ufl.edu
352-273-1942
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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