Impurest's Guide to Animals #46 - Synalpheus regalis

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Edited By ImpurestCheese

A happy new year to all who read this. Last issue we surfed into 2015 on the wake caused by the surfing Plough Snail. This year we start off with a bang as a much requested creature is finally covered, Hope you guys enjoy the issue.

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Issue #46 - Synalpheus regalis

[1]
[1]

Kingdom – Animalia

Phylum – Arthropoda

Class – Malacostraca

Order – Decapoda

Family – Alpheidae

Genus – Synalpheus

Species –regalis

Related Species - Synalpheus regalis is one of the 600 species of shrimp known colloquially as Snapping or Pistol Shrimps (1)

Range - Synalpheus regalis lives in three species of sponge, all of whom live in tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean

Sponges from the genus Neopetrosia often house Synaalpheus regalius colonies [2]
Sponges from the genus Neopetrosia often house Synaalpheus regalius colonies [2]

Defenders of the Tower

Synalpheus regalis is a small transparent shrimp with an orange hue visible inside the exoskeleton. Like the rest of the Pistol Shrimps Synalpheus regalis has an oversized claw that is used in communication and defence. Despite this oversized defensive weapon thus species of shrimp prefers to remain hidden inside the cavity of a sponge, usually from the genus Neopetrosia and chews holes and tunnels inside to transform it into a fortress. Like some other shrimps Synalpheus regalis lives in large groups consisting of related animals in service to a single breeding female (2). As such there are two clear castes; breeding individuals and sterilised females that act as guards and workers.

[3]
[3]

It is the guards who maintain the survival of the colony through a method called ‘inclusive selection’ where the fitness of non breeding individuals maintains the survival of the breeding stock. Behaviour studies show that breeding females and males are less aggressive then the guards and are largely unable to fend for themselves without their supporters. Synalpheus regalis feeds off sponges making their home even more valuable, as such the guards actively challenge any invaders using high frequency clicks and pressurized water jets to defend their home (3).

[4]
[4]

The single breeding female partially controls the colonies actions through pheromones, directing her supporters to switch to a different task. Her eggs mostly hatch into replacement workers although some will develop into new breeding individuals, with either the males or females leaving the nest to find their own mates and then colonise a new sponge fortress.

Ecology 101: A Guide to Environmental Mechanics - #4 Eusocial Species

Eusociality comes from the Greek words Eu (Good/Real) and Social. Several groups have developed species that live in Eusocial situations but those most recognised are in the Order Hymenoptera (Bees, Ants and Wasps) and the Infraorder Isoptera (Termites). Outside of these groups; animals as diverse as shrimp, beetles and rodents all have independently developed Eusocial species. While the size, sophistication and role these colonies provide differ they all share one trait and that’s a limit on the number of breeding animals.

Due to this limitation it is hard for us to fathom why the majority of a species would surrender it’s rite to reproduce. The answer is that most if not all the individuals in the hive shares some genes in common with the breeding stock. As such their genes will only be passed on only if they are successful in keeping the breeding stock safe and healthy. Some species will even go so far as suicide to protect the breeders, the termite Neocapritermes taracua are even willing to self destruct to stall invaders, the desire to protect the common gene is that strong.

While the workers and guards protect the colony the breeding stock, often referred to as a queen, has other problems. While the majority of Eusocial Queens give birth to sterile support staff there are a few species who risk attack from within their own colonies. For example Queen Ants from the species Leptothorax acervorumwill colonise a nest together but end up fighting for dominance until one breeding queen is left, and the others are dead or forced to leave the hive (4).

Perhaps most oddly there was until recently a theory that humanity itself was a Eusocial species. While there are certain similarities with confirmed Eusocial species such as bees and ants there is one key difference too. A true Eusocial species has no option but to work for the goodness of the group in order to preserve its genes. Humans and a great deal of other species cooperate for a wide range of reasons but ultimately such co-operation comes about through a conscious decision

Bibliography

1 - www.arkive.org

2 - J. Emmett Duffy (1996). "Synalpheus regalis, new species, a sponge-dwelling shrimp from the Belize Barrier Reef, with comments on host specificity in Synalpheus"(PDF). Journal of Crustacean Biology16 (3): 564–573

3 - J. Emmett Duffy, Cheryl L. Morrison & Kenneth S. Macdonald (2002). "Colony defense and behavioral differentiation in the eusocial shrimp Synalpheus regalis"(PDF). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology51 (5): 488–495

4 - http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110929235154.htm

Picture References

1 - http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/86/Synalpheus_fritzmuelleri.jpg

2 - http://www.portol.org/guide/images/a2_b2_c9_d4_e6_f2_g1_h1_i3_j1_k1_sp14.jpg

3 - http://alpheidae.lifedesks.org/image/view/430/_original

4 - http://cnx.org/resources/9e1e52abcfaa0d2f7c16e1690030a6dc/Picture%201.jpg

And with a snap of its claws Synalpheus regalis retreats back into the safety of its sponge fortress. Next weeks animal has tentacles, aquatic and potentially psychic (but not what you think). Until then comment, critic and check out past issues in Impurest’s Bestiary.

Many Thanks

Impurest Cheese

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@impurestcheese: When you mentioned eusociality your reminded me of my Conflict and Co Operation exam I have in january -_-

Good work as always though :)

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@foolsgold: Conflict and Co-Operation sounds painful. Thanks for the comment though

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This is pretty cool.

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@potatobaron: Thanks for the comment. Do you want to be included in regular callouts?

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@impurestcheese: BTW since I follow you on comicvine I automatically get notified every time you do a blog. A shout out in my case would be redundant.

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#8  Edited By cattlebattle

So, insects of the ocean floor, then?? Whose genus name led my mind straight down the gutter to think that the word "syphilis" was in the title?? Neat

Also....

Synalpheus regalis has an oversized claw that is used in communication and defence

No Caption Provided

:0

Oh, and happy new year to you and yours, Impurest Cheese.

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@impurestcheese: I already followed this blog so it automatically notifies me

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@potatobaron: Ah cool thanks

@cattlebattle: Kind of oh gutter minded one :-)

@dngn4774: I totally agree with that use of prawns

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@impurestcheese: Good read as always. Which little critter will be next I wonder...

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@ostyo: Not so little really, thanks for the comment and a happy new year

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@impurestcheese: Oooooh, something bigger. Impurestcheese does always say bigger is better. Happy new year, Red.

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@ostyo: I've never said that before. :-)

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Well, I definitely learned something today... Not the most interesting reply I know...

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nasssty.

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@ostyo: Size isn't all that important...

Awesome blog, can't wait for the next one!

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Awesome as usual :)

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@impurestcheese: phew well now I'm unbanned, this is cool I'll read it right now

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#23  Edited By Cream_God

Interesting, never though anything in marine life could work like ants or bees

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@kingvenus: Not as nasty as some of the things I cover

@scattered316: @itsomething: @wolverine08: Thanks for the comments guys

@ccraft: A while, some is existing knowledge and some is abuse of my jstore acount

@cgoodness: Yeah it was a suprise to me when I found out too

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#25  Edited By Straight-Fire

Awesome! What a great way to start the New Year. ^_^

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Interesting animal and great blog!

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#29  Edited By ImpurestCheese

@knightsofdarkness2: Cool thanks for the comment

@dboyrules2011: Yep and it's all slithering uphill from now on

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#31  Edited By ImpurestCheese

@dboyrules2011: Nope, only to my reptile handling training where I carried (in a snake bag) an Indian Cobra over a hill to release it only for her to slither back the way we came back to the house it was caught in

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Cool Beans

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@ccraft: A while, some is existing knowledge and some is abuse of my jstore acount

Hehe I have a free sub :P

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I would have never known shrimp were like ants. I'm really thrown, haha.

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@ms-lola: Yep nature has all kind of tricks up her sleeve

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@impurestcheese: Off Topic but I got my Butterfly Data!!!! I can finally do my project :p

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