Crabs with Javier Luque and Kecia Kerr

Jan 28th

While working on terrestrial models, reference and metaphors often get biased towards them. For instance if I said, “Javier, are crabs are the insects of the sea?”, he would reply with something along the lines of, “NO! Insects are the crabs of the land!” For as we know, due to past taxonomic and molecular work, insects are seen to be derived from crustaceous origins. While I enjoy insects as model organisms (and simply just organisms) I come to be interested in their relatives in Pancrustacea (and chelicerata). Crabs (Brachyura), while especially charismatic and successful, captured my attention during the talks and I suddenly realized that I love crabs for all the same reasons I like insects. I will not provide that list here but I will say that I have broadened my horizon on research interests. To further pique our interests (not Gerard Piqué) Kecia talked about fiddler crabs which have quite advanced social behavior in terms of crabs. With the great radiation and success of crabs, they are without a doubt full of interesting questions. For example, in Fortuna some of us were able to see a forest crab – what was it doing there!? I had never seen a crab in a forest and I had not expected to see one. This is a great example of a sea going invertebrate that has successfully inhabited places much farther inland. With the ability to obtain moisture from the wet Fortuna environment it starts to make sense how this crab made it up to the mountains. But what is life like for a forest crab compared to a ocean going crabs or frog crabs? Life histories of crabs can tell us a lot about their successful evolution and can bring to light new questions regarding molecular techniques. Of course, I think molecular work is very interesting and crabs could be a great candidate. For now, I will continue to work on insects but I will have other arthropods on my mind.

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