High Antarctic regular sea urchins - The role of space and alimentation in niche separation


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ujacob [ at ] awi-bremerhaven.de

Abstract

Regular sea urchins of the families Cidaridae and Echinidae are widespread and sympatrically occurring epibenthic species in Antarctic waters. Food preference and water depth distribution of the five most abundant species (Ctenocidaris gigantea, C. spinosa, Notocidaris mortenseni, Sterechinus antarcticus, S. neumayeri) were analysed based on trawl and photograph samples. Both diet and water depth contribute to niche separation among these species. All sea urchins consume bryozoans and sediment, but echinids feed predominantly on diatoms in the fluff, when available. Cidarids do not consume diatoms, most likely owing to morphological constraints; their typical food consists of sponges and hydroids. C. spinosa and S. neumayeri prefer shallow water depths, whereas N. mortenseni and S. antarcticus prefer deeper regions. C. gigantea is the most variable species regarding food composition and living depth.



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ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
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Published
Eprint ID
5974
DOI 10.1007/s00300-002-0453-0

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Jacob, U. , Terpstra, S. and Brey, T. (2003): High Antarctic regular sea urchins - The role of space and alimentation in niche separation , Polar biology, 26 , pp. 99-104 . doi: 10.1007/s00300-002-0453-0


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