Occurrence data of some marine invertebrates and freshwater crabs housed in the natural history collection at the National Museums of Kenya
The Kenyan aquatic systems comprising of both marine and freshwater ecosystems is rich in biodiversity. The Kenyan coastline covers about 640 Km long and is characterized by different habitats including coral reefs, mangrove forests, seagrass beds, rocky shores and cliffs, lagoons and the open sea. These biodiversity plays important roles including human food sources, ecosystem functions including nutrient cycling and food web dynamics, as ecosystem engineers, pollinations, potential sources of medicine while coral reefs provide bio-physical support to other critical habitats such as sea-grasses and mangroves. However, these biodiversity faces numerous threats such as destruction of their natural habitats, overharvesting and overexploitation, pollution, invasive species coupled with global warming with many more species likely disappearing even before being discovered and archived. About 1800 marine faunal species are documented in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) Region (Richmond, 2002). Despite the documentation, only a few species are archived in the natural history collection at the National Museums of Kenya (NMK). This greatly hampers marine taxonomic research hence the reliance on other international museums housing similar species for identification based on type specimen material (holotype/syntype). Museum scientific collections provide irreplaceable resources that are important in taxonomic, biogeographic and evolutionary research studies. Hence, marine researchers in are highly encouraged to deposit scientific specimens, in natural history collection at NMK, as scientific reference material. NMK is the custodian of Kenya’s natural heritage. Here, we provide a data-subset of some important Kenyan marine biodiversity data archived in the Invertebrate Zoology Section at NMK. These include 43 species of crabs mostly mangrove crabs, 3 species of Barnacles, 7 species of mangrove molluscs, 33 species of ornamental molluscs used in shell trade, 3 species of exclusive marine commercial mollusks, 3 species of commercial prawns, 3 species of commercial lobsters, 15 species of echinoderms and 15 species of corals. Also included are some 9 species of fresh water crabs in Kenya.