Charles Fransen

Charles Fransen

Through phylogenetic analysis based on molecular and morphological characters of selected groups of shrimps in combination with the study of their biogeographical distribution patterns and host-relations, hypothesis on the evolutionary history of these groups are formulated. Special attention is given to marine palaemonid shrimps. These shrimps are living in association with other invertebrates. The co-evolutionary component is studied by means of comparisons between phylogenetic patterns of both shrimps and hosts.


Ecological speciation, biogeography, phylogeny, marine biodiversity, Crustacea, Decapoda, Caridea, Palaemonidae, symbiosis, taxonomy, systematics




A selection of the topics I am working on currently:

  • Checklist of Dutch Caribbean palaemonid shrimps
  • Evolution of symbiotic shrimps
  • Descriptions of new species of marine palaemonids
  • Ontological host shifts in symbiotic palaemonids
MAL03 032_Dasycaris zanzibarica on Stichopathes

Current Topic
Cleaning shrimps

Multiple origins and strong phenotypic convergence in fish-cleaning palaemonid shrimp lineages

Several species of palaemonid shrimps are known to act as fish-cleaning symbionts, with cleaning interactions ranging from dedicated (obligate) to facultative. We confirmed five evolutionarily independent origins of fish cleaning symbioses within the family Palaemonidae based on a phylogenetic analysis and the ancestral state reconstruction of 68 species, including 13 fish-cleaners. (Horka et al., 2018)

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Ancylomenes magnificus


  • Fransen C.H.J.M. 2023. The marine palaemonid shrimps (Crustacea, Deapoda, Caridea) of the Dutch Caribbean. Zootaxa 5387 (1), 1-127. DOI: 10.11646/ZOOTAXA.5387.1.1
  • de Gier W., Helleman P., van den Oever J., Fransen C.H.J.M. 2023. Ecomorphological convergence in the walking leg dactyli of two clades of ascidian‐and mollusc‐associated shrimps (Decapoda: Caridea: Palaemonidae). Ecology and Evolution 13 (12), e10768.
  • De Grave S., Decock W., Dekeyzer S., Davie P.J.F., Fransen C.H.J.M., Boyko C.B, Poore G.C.B., Macpherson E., Ahyong S.T., Crandall K.A., Mazancourt V., Osawa M., Chan T.-Y., Ng P.K.L., Lemaitre R., van der Meij S.E.T., Santos S. 2023. Benchmarking global biodiversity of decapod crustaceans (Crustacea: Decapoda). Journal of Crustacean Biology 43, 1–9.
  • de Gier W., Fransen C.H.J.M. 2023. Polka-dotted treasures: Revising a clade of ascidian- and bivalve-associated shrimps (Caridea: Palaemonidae). Contributions to Zoology 92, 179–282. doi: 10.1163/18759866-bja10042
  • de Gier W., Groenhof M., Fransen C.H.J.M. 2022. Coming out of your shell or crawling back in: multiple interphylum host switching events within a clade of bivalve and ascidian-associated shrimps (Caridea: Palaemonidae). Contributions to Zoology 91, 166–198. doi:10.1163/18759866-bja10030.
  • Horká I., De Grave S., Fransen C.H.J.M., Petrusek A., Ďuriš Z. 2018. Multiple origins and strong phenotypic convergence in fish-cleaning palaemonid shrimp lineages. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 124: 71-81.
  • Horká I., Grave S. de, Fransen C.H.J.M., Petrusek A., Ďuriš Z. 2016. Multiple host switching events shape the evolution of symbiotic palaemonid shrimps (Crustacea: Decapoda). Scientific Reports 6: 26486.
  • Grave S. de, Fransen C.H.J.M. 2011. Carideorum catalogus: the recent species of the dendrobranchiate, stenopodidean, procarididean and caridean shrimps (Crustacea: Decapoda). Zoologische Mededelingen 85: 195-589.

All publications on GoogleScholar


Naturalis aims to be a breeding ground for international scientific talent. Therefore, PhD's have a special position in our organisation.


    • Meij, S.E.T. van der. Evolutionary diversification of coral-dwelling gall crabs (Cryptochiridae). Leiden University, defended in 2015.
    • Gier, W. de. Ecomorphological aspects in the evolution of symbiotic marine crustaceans. Groningen University, 2019-2023.
    • Schoot, R.J. van der. Geassocieerde fauna op koraalriffen: zegen of vloek? Groningen University, 2020-2025. 


    • Bachelor course Biodiversity II, Leiden University
    • Honours course Evolution of Earth and Life, examining today's evidence for Origins questions along the coast of Brittany, Leiden University

    Honours Class
    Crises in Biology: Animal Life from the Late Precambrian to the Emergence of Land Life

    Life in all its diversity evolved in the marine environment. In this course taught at Leiden University and at the Marine Center of the University Marie et Pierre Curie, France, in Roscoff, we teach aspects of the Tree of Life, we focus on the transition from mono-cellular life to animal life conquering the continents in the early Paleozoic, and we address Earth history from the time of the origin of life to the adaptations that made the emergence of land life possible.

    We bring together a multi-disciplinary team of marine biologists, ecologists, physicists and geophysicists, isotope geochemists, paleontologists and geologists to teach a course in geo-biology with special interest in the Tree of Life, the origin of life, and the environments in which life evolved.

    Watch trailer honours course 'Evolution of Earth and Life', Leiden University and Naturalis


    In the

    Artikel door Bart Braun in de rubriek 'De Verdieping' in Trouw - 8 juli 2018: De waanzinnige wasstraat van de poetsgarnaal is van levensbelang



    Crassimarginatella harmeri Fransen, 1986
    Cradoscrupocellaria curacaoensis (Fransen, 1986)
    Aspiscellaria carmabi (Fransen, 1986)
    Aspiscellaria piscaderaensis (Fransen, 1986)
    Aspiscellaria hildae (Fransen, 1986)
    Bugula hummelincki Fransen, 1986
    Discias pascuensis Fransen, 1987
    Palaemonella disalvoi Fransen, 1987
    Cuapetes rapanui (Fransen, 1987)
    Bitias Fransen, 1990
    Bitias stocki Fransen, 1990
    Lysmata olavoi Fransen, 1991
    Salmoneus sketi Fransen, 1991
    Bythocaris akidopleura Fransen, 1993

    Conchodytes pteriae
    Conchodytes pteriae Fransen, 1994

    Jocaste platysoma Fransen, 1994
    Chelonika Fransen, 1997
    Chelonika macrochela Fransen, 1997
    Lebbeus africanus Fransen, 1997
    Pontonia manningi Fransen, 2000
    Leontoncaris vanderlandi Fransen, 2001
    Pontonia pilosa Fransen, 2002
    Ascidonia Fransen, 2002
    Rostronia Fransen, 2002
    Dactylonia Fransen, 2002

    Dactylonia holthuisi
    Dactylonia holthuisi Fransen, 2002

    Odontonia Fransen, 2002
    Odontonia rufopunctata Fransen, 2002
    Odontonia seychellensis Fransen, 2002
    Bruceonia Fransen, 2002
    Poripontonia dux Fransen, 2003

    Periclimenes mclaughlinae
    Periclimenes mclaughlinae Fransen, 2006

    Odontonia maldivensis Fransen, 2006
    Periclimenaeus orbitocarinatus Fransen, 2006

    Vir smiti
    Vir smiti Fransen & Holthuis, 2007

    Neopontonides brucei Fransen & Almeida, 2009

    Periclimenes vanellus
    Periclimenes vanellus Fransen, 2010

    Pseudopontonides plumosus Snijders & Fransen, 2010
    Leontocaris smarensis Cardoso & Fransen, 2012
    Nippontonia christellae Fransen, 2013
    Hamodactylus macrophthalmus Fransen & Rauch, 2013
    Periclimenes macrorhyncha Eilbracht & Fransen, 2015
    Hamodactylus paraqabai Horká, Fransen & Ďuriš, 2016
    Hamodactylus pseudaqabai Horká, Fransen & Ďuriš, 2016
    Paraclimenaeus michaeli Odijk & Fransen, 2017
    Pseudocoutierea acutidorsata Olthof, Becking & Fransen, 2018
    Odontonia plurellicola de Gier & Fransen, 2018

    Odontonia bagginsi
    Odontonia bagginsi de Gier & Fransen, 2018

    Halocaridinides socotraensis Fransen & Van Damme, 2018
    Hippolyte cedrici Fransen & De Grave, 2019
    Hippolyte karenae Fransen & De Grave, 2019
    Odontonia kerangcaris Fransen, Groenhof & de Gier, 2021

    Cuapetes canariensis
    Cuapetes canariensis Fransen, Schubart & Moro, 2022
    Palaemonella rubrolineata
    Palaemonella rubrolineata Fransen, van der Veer & Frolová, 2022
    Palaemonella sandyi
    Palaemonella sandyi Fransen, van der Veer & Ďuriš, 2023

    Polkamenes de Gier & Fransen, 2023
    Tympanicheles de Gier & Fransen, 2023
    Periclimenes africanus Fransen & Wirtz, 2023