The gecarcinid genus Gecarcoidea H. Milne Edwards, 1837 is currently represented by two species from the Indo-West Pacific – the widely distributed purple land crab, G. lalandii H. Milne Edwards, 1837, and the red crab endemic to Christmas Island, G. natalis (Pocock, 1889). One species, G. humei (Wood-Mason, 1874), described from the Nicobar Islands, has had a confused taxonomic history, but was treated as a junior synonym of G. lalandii by Türkay (1974) in his revision of the family. In this study, using molecular as well as morphological characters, we show that G. humei is a valid species. Gecarcoidea lalandii and G. humei have distinct non-overlapping distributions throughout much of their range, with G. lalandii occurring in most of South-east Asia and the West Pacific, while G. humei is known only from the eastern Indian Ocean. On Christmas Island, in the eastern Indian Ocean, however, all three species are present. As a result, Christmas Island is the only locality where all extant species of Gecarcoidea are found. The three species can also be separated by differences in live colours and patterns, as well as proportions of the carapace, male abdomen, ambulatory legs and third maxillipeds, and details of the orbits and male first gonopods.
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Vol. 31 • No. 4