The coconut crab, Birgus latro, weighting up to 9.0 lb is the largest extant land-living arthropod in the world. Scientists believe it has reached the upper size limit of terrestrial animals exoskeletons in today's atmosphere.
Research conducted in our laboratory focuses on the biodiversity, systematics, phylogenetic relationships, and natural history of various crustacean lineages. We use morphological characters (shape and form) as well as molecular characters (gene sequence data) to elucidate the relationships of these diverse groups. Current research focuses primarily on three groups. The first, decapods, is an enormous group that includes the familiar crabs, shrimps, and lobsters, as well as many other less familiar forms.
The second, isopods, is a group of small but diverse crustaceans that are primarily marine (although pillbugs are well-known terrestrial isopods). The third, branchiopods, is a fascinating and ancient group of crustaceans found today primarily in ephemeral (temporary) pools and ponds, including those in the nearby Mojave Desert. Dr. Martin’s research ranges from the systematics of crabs and shrimps from deep sea hydrothermal vents to studies of the biodiversity of shallow coral reef areas, most recently the outer Hawaiian Islands. The Crustacea lab has benefitted from generous funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation.
R/V Oscar-Elton-Sette, photo by John Starmer.