Features » Walking sideways: revisiting the diversity of freshwater crabs in eastern South Africa

Potamonautes isimangaliso Kei River research site Potamonautes sidneyi

by Dr Gavin Gouws

Systematic study into the diversity of South Africa’s freshwater crabs was launched in the early 1990s. 

A large, collaborative project was launched in 2014, funded by the NRF’s Competitive Programme for Rated Researchers, to examine the diversity and dispersal of freshwater crabs, primarily across eastern South Africa. However, large areas of the country remained unexplored and it has become clear that species diversity among freshwater crabs has been underestimated.

This research will provide an improved understanding of the diversity of South African freshwater crabs. It will also examine how the movement of species is aided by Inter-Basin Water Transfer schemes and some of the impacts this might have. A study of parasites found in crabs will have direct bearing on issues of human health and will provide insight into the prevalence of parasites responsible for paragonimiasis in crabs. Paragonimus is a lung fluke (flatworm) that infects the lungs of humans after they have eaten an infected raw or undercooked crab. Read more