Marine Biology

, Volume 151, Issue 5, pp 1615–1622 | Cite as

Obligate commensalism of Curvemysella paula (Bivalvia: Galeommatidae) with hermit crabs

  • Ryutaro Goto
  • Yoichi Hamamura
  • Makoto KatoEmail author
Research Article


Curvemysella paula is a markedly crescent-shaped bivalve that lives inside snail shells occupied by hermit crabs. Here, we describe the unique symbiotic life, growth pattern, and reproductive biology of this bivalve, based on specimens collected from the shallow, muddy bottom of the Seto Inland Sea, Japan. C. paula was found attached to columellae in the siphonal canal, mainly of nassariid snail shells occupied by two types of hermit crabs: Diogenes edwardsii (Diogenidae) and Spiropagurus spiriger (Paguridae). The crescent-shaped shell of C. paula is an adaptation to symbiotic life in the narrow interspace between the snail shell and the hermit-crab abdomen. C. paula is a protandric hermaphrodite. In our samples, each host snail shell harbored one (or rarely a few) large female and several males. All the female bivalves settled on the host shells with their anterior end facing outward and benefited from currents created by the hermit crab when feeding. In the muddy bottom, snail shells are a limited resource for both the hermit crabs and symbiotic bivalves. The bivalves benefit from the mobility of the hermit crabs, which prevent the shells from becoming buried in the mud. C. paula represents the only example of obligate commensalism with hermit crabs found in Bivalvia.


Bivalve Shell Length Hermit Crab Mantle Cavity Snail Shell 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of AgricultureKyoto UniversitySakyoJapan
  2. 2.KureJapan
  3. 3.Graduate School of Human and Environmental StudiesKyoto UniversitySakyoJapan

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