Ant super-colonies threaten the Christmas Island red crab

Yellow crazy ants – an invasive species from Africa – are wiping out millions of Christmas Island red crabs.

As a result, numbers of this very important species appear to be declining.

To aid in their management and long-term survival cesar is currently undertaking a population genetic study to:

  • Determine population genetic structure
  • Gene flow and genetic diversity
  • Breeding systems/structure
  • Effective population size and relatedness

The Christmas Island red crabs are a keystone species to the island’s biodiversity. They help to manage the understory free forests that are characteristic of the island and impart resilience to the island against some introduced species.

While they are not endangered at this stage, it is important that baseline genetic data is determined to aid in future monitoring and management.

Christmas Island red crabs are known for their spectacular annual migration when millions cover the island over 2 months in search for their coastal breeding ground.

Cover image: Photo by Andrew Weeks, Cesar Australia

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