Trophic plasticity in the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus, as a function of resource availability and habitat features
Factors controlling herbivory pressure are of central importance in shaping the seascape. In the Mediterranean, the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus is considered as a keystone herbivore in seagrass meadows and macroalgal communities. Here we explored the trophic behavior of this sea urchin in a shallow seagrass habitat of Cymodocea nodosa mixed with Caulerpa prolifera and interspersed with sandy areas in Alfacs Bay, Ebro Delta (NW Mediterranean). The seasonal pseudo-indigenous bryozoan Amathia verticillata is locally very abundant, and there is also an important population of pen shells Pinna nobilis, providing hard substrate and cover, thus being a unique environment for assessing sea urchin trophic behavior. To this end, we conducted an ensemble of food preference and foraging experiments and stomach content and stable isotope analyses. Our results showed that sea urchins strongly prefer A. verticillata over other local resources, and there was also an important presence of the bryozoan in stomach contents (ca. 44%), coupled with green and decayed seagrass leaves. Stable isotope analyses revealed that over the long term, ca. 65% of the diet of P. lividus was based on decayed seagrass leaves, followed by the bryozoan and green seagrass leaves (21.7 and 13.3%, respectively). The local availability of P. nobilis provides a preferred substrate for sea urchins, which showed limited foraging movements into the surrounding seagrass beds, particularly when A. verticillata was attached to the pen shells. The apparently high contribution of animal and detrital food to P. lividus diet is unprecedented, and suggests an opportunistic feeding behavior in sea urchins in those habitats.
574 - Ecologia general i biodiversitat
Camps-Castellà, Judith, Javier Romero, and Patricia Prado. 2020. "Trophic Plasticity In The Sea Urchin Paracentrotus Lividus, As A Function Of Resource Availability And Habitat Features". Marine Ecology Progress Series 637: 71-85. Inter-Research Science Center. doi:10.3354/meps13235.
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