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Laura Michie

Coexistence of Sympatric Fiddler crabs (Uca spp) at their Wallacean Hotspot of Diversity (Part funded by Operation Wallacea, PhD at Portsmouth University supervised by Dr Simon Cragg and co-supervised by Dr Richard Barnes, University of Cambridge). Laura is undertaking a PhD on the remarkable levels of sympatry displayed by intertidal fiddler crabs on a mudflat at Ambeua on Pulau Kaledupa in the Taman Nasional Wakatobi, Sulawesi Tenggara, Indonesia. There, within an area of only some 10 x 25 m at the interface between a non-calcareous mudflat and the mangrove fringe, nine species of fiddler crabs coexist, many more than at any other known site anywhere in the world. Throughout the tropical and warm-temperate zones, fiddler crabs are the dominant ecosystem engineers in higher level intertidal marine mudflats, and they are the most important link in the food-chain between the photosynthesisers on and in the sediment and the vertebrate top predators (birds, reptiles and mammals and, in Indonesia, frogs). Laura’s PhD aims not only to explain how this remarkable level of sympatry is achieved, but also, by extension, to contribute to general ecological understanding of how different ecologically-equivalent species manage to coexist in nature at biodiversity hotspots.

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