Decapods are a culmination of nearly 600 million years of Crustacean evolution, during which time they have radiated into a variety of superfamilies, families, genera and species which occupy a variety of niches from fresh mountain streams to the abysses of the oceans. This book will fill a gap in the current literature on southern African decapods. Since Barnard published his Descriptive Catalogue of South African Decapod Crustacea in 1950, there have been numerous additions and name changes. This publication updates the taxonomy and includes ecological and fisheries information. In addition, Kensley's (1981) distributional checklist for the region has been updated and includes large numbers of new species and records for the region, bringing the total number of decapod to over 1000 species. Although not exhaustive, 262 species are featured, some of which are beautiful, some have commercial or artisanal value, both for consumption and the aquarium, and some have important ecological functions, while others are rare or interesting. For each species, there is a photograph, synonymies, common names, a description, ecological information and name derivation (etymology). All the decapod families found in South Africa are described, some new, along with chapters on decapod research history in southern Africa, commercial and artisanal food value of decapods, biodiversity and future research direction.
The book is arranged systematically, as taxonomy is based on phylogeny, starting with the earliest forms and progressing to the most derived and advanced forms, and will serve to stimulate interest and future research into southern Africa's rich decapod biodiversity, especially at a time when biodiversity itself is threatened by global warming, coral bleaching and habitat loss. It will appeal to people interested in Decapoda, including academics, scholars, students, fishermen, aquarists, aquaculturists, recreational snorkel and SCUBA divers, as well as those interested in conservation, biodiversity, management and governance.
Dr W. D. Emmerson read for his BSc and BSc (Hons) at Rhodes University, South Africa, before starting his career with the Fisheries Development Corporation (FDC) at the Port Elizabeth Museum and Aquarium. He moved to KwaZulu-Natal to continue prawn culture research and receive his MSc, before returning to Port Elizabeth to complete his PhD while working on a marine pollution monitoring project. He then moved to the University of Transkei (now the Walter Sisulu University), South Africa, where he worked as a Research Associate, Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor, Professor and Head of the Department of Zoology. During this time, he conducted National Research Foundation and European Union funded research on mangrove crabs, as well as other projects such as Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) funded work on the subsistence use of spiny lobsters along the Transkei coast, and coral reef decapods at Sodwana Bay, KwaZulu-Natal. He is currently teaching at St Leonard’s College in St Andrews, Scotland.
"Winston Emmerson – 'Winks' to his friends – has had a longstanding love affair with the decapods of southern Africa, and this has now reached fruition in this longawaited publication reviewing the group. Two words jump to mind: 'magnum opus' – for this is indeed a culmination of Winks' passion. [...] None of the earlier reviews of our decapod fauna provides that kind of indepth information. In this sense, the book is a gold mine of information. I am quite sure that I will be burrowing into the volumes for years without exhausting their rewards."
– George M Branch, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town, African Journal of Marine Science, 38:4 (2016)
"The whole three-volume work runs to more than 1,800 pages and is extremely detailed [...] in respect of those taxa treated. There is thus no doubt that these volumes constitute a massive advance and provide an essential resource for academic libraries and taxonomic specialists. In particular, the literature of the past generation is synthesised, providing an updated platform from which new research into the taxonomy and biology of this important group can move forward."
– Charles L Griffiths, University of Cape Town, African Journal of Aquatic Science, 41:4 (2016)
"These three volumes represent a monumental contribution to our understanding of the decapod fauna of southern Africa. Within its nearly 2000 pages, Emmerson has compiled clearly written and beautifully illustrated systematic, ecologic, phylogenetic, and commercial data on species within all known families from the area. The work is grounded in Emmerson's personal research in the area and is reinforced by 229 pages of references. As such, it updates and expands upon the 66 year-old classic work of K. H. Barnard, and expands other previous works by including deep sea and fresh water occurrences. The comprehensive treatment of families in the region as well as the massive reference section will make the work equally valuable for decapod research globally. In addition to the extensive, systematically arranged treatment, the introductory passages provide a wealth of information and insight into decapod biology. The discussion of the history of classification and the application of a modern, phylogenetically-based system is of particular interest. So, also, is the discussion of the commercial value of south African decapods which is arranged by systematic groups and profusely illustrated. Taken together, Emmerson's work will clearly become a classic that will be an essential reference in every library and personal collection of students of Crustacea."
– Rodney M. Feldmann, Professor Emeritus, Kent State University
"This new book about South African decapod Crustacea is a monumental work of scholarship and endeavour. Such an exhaustive treatment of this fascinating group has only been attempted once before by Keppel H. Barnard during the 1950s and subsequently supplemented by Brian Kensley. [...] During his career Winks Emmerson has studied and written about almost all the types of decapods from Africa: from penaeid shrimps to fiddler crabs and tree-climbing mangrove sesarmids. In the Guide he has shared his accumulated wealth of knowledge. You could discover all this knowledge yourself, by searching the literature, but more easily you could buy and read his three handsome volumes. These are a bird's eye view into the world of "Decapodology" through African eyes."
– Colin L McLay, Biological Sciences, Canterbury University, New Zealand
"The literature coverage is truly impressive. Even without a special interest in the southern African fauna, any decapod researcher, ecologist, palaeontologist or taxonomist, will find this a valuable resource for even the most recent papers."
– Gary Poore, Museum Victoria, The Ecdysiast: Newsletter of The Crustacean Society, 35:2 (2016)