A blue legged hermit crab (Clibanarius tricolor) is tagged and measured during a study of hermit crab habitat use, home range, and population structure. Blue legged hermits are one the most heavily fished animals in the Florida ornamental fishery.

Ornamental Fisheries Research

The biology and ecology of invertebrate ornamental fisheries

  • UF graduate student, Josh Anderson, counts blue-legged hermit crabs to determine their abundance, population structure, and spatial distribution.
  • The peppermint shrimp Lysmata boggessi is another heavily fished marine ornamental, sought for its ability to control pest anemones in reef aquariums.
  • Blue-legged hermit crabs tagged and ready for release as a part of a mark-recapture study on hermit crab population dynamics.
  • A commercial roller-frame trawl fishermen out of Hernando Beach, Florida sorts through the catch looking for pink and peppermint shrimp.
  • VIDEO: Check out this video of Mike Dickson's fishery-dependent peppermint shrimp research.
Our expertise on benthic habitats and invertebrates has led to a new research focus on the many invertebrates targeted for their aesthetic or functional value to the aquarium trade. Ornamental fisheries often operate unnoticed due to their niche market, the frequency of product export, and the diminutive size of the target organisms. As a result, little attention has been paid to them and they have been managed based on limited life history or population information. At low levels of exploitation this situation may not be problematic, but as exploitation intensifies it is critical to have baseline biological information on a species to manage it sustainably. We began to tackle this lack of life history and population structure information with two of the most heavily exploited species, peppermint shrimp and the blue-legged hermit crabs, and are now investigating the ecological implications of harvest on benthic communities and habitats.

This research is in collaboration with Dr. Antonio Baeza, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Clemson University. Dr. Baeza is an expert on phylogeny, evolution, biology, and life history of invertebrate crustaceans. His website highlights his other research and contains links to many of his publications.

From the Behringer Lab

  • UF Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences M.S. student Michael Dickson is studying the population structure, reproductive dynamics, and ecology of the ornamental peppermint shrimp.


  • Life history studies on two emblematic ornamental crustaceans from the Florida Keys, the blue-legged hermit crab Clibanarius tricolor and peppermint shrimp of the genus Lysmata
    Link to report
  • More Publications Here

Funding Agency