Montane Crab in Borneo
A montane crab, Sundathelphusa tenebrosa was first described by a well-known carcinologist (L.B. Holthius) in 1979. It was based on a specimen collected from the west ridge of Gunung Mulu National Park. Since then, no other specimen had been collected from other locations in Borneo.
Because of the very restrictive distribution, the S.tenebrosa was categorise as unique to Gunung Mulu National Park. Current surveys by the researchers at UNIMAS, however, disputed the claim, as a number of S.tenebrosa specimens were collected from different locations in Sarawak i.e the Pulong Tao National Park and the Murum River system in Belaga.
An interesting finding is that the species are able to thrive in both acidic and alkaline habitats. Unlike streams in Gunung Mulu National Park which are alkaline, most of the streams in Pulong Tao National Park are acidic. The occurrence of this crab in both water systems indicated that its distribution may not be restricted by water acidity.
Another interesting finding is that specimens missing in the low-lying limestone forest of the Bau limestone areas seem to suggest that the species are distributed at the higher altitude. More studies, however, need to be conducted to confirm this observation.
S.tenebrosa is categorised as endangered species. Besides Gunung Mulu and Pulong Tau National Parks, the habitats of this species in Murum River systems had been heavily disturbed by logging activities. Studies on this species are definitely needed to ensure their survival.
This report is taken from an abstract prepared by Jongkar Grinang and Lee Nyanti (both of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak)