This study documents the fauna associated with two common comatulid crinoid species, Comanthus wahlbergi and Tropiometra carinata, in False Bay, South Africa, and describes the patterns of infestation of obligate associate species. A total of 11 invertebrate species was found associated with one or both crinoids. Of these, three were considered obligate: the myzostomidans, Myzostomafuscomaculatum and Myzostoma n. sp., and the shrimp, Hippolyte catagrapha, all of which only occurred on T. carinata. Both frequency and density of infestation were higher for the two myzostomes than for the shrimp. The majority of crinoids infested with myzostomes hosted two or more individuals, while H. catagrapha usually occurred singly. A total of 67.5% of all T. carinata collected were infested by symbionts. Of these 45% hosted only one species, 17% hosted two species and 5.8% hosted all three. Most M. fuscomaculatum (85.2%) and H. catagrapha (82.1%) matched their hosts' colouring, while Myzostoma n. sp. were all yellowish in colour. Infestation by Myzostoma n. sp. increased in both frequency and density with depth. All three obligate symbiont species are new to science, illustrating the biodiversity that can still be uncovered by investigating new niches.
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Vol. 43 • No. 2