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Corpus Systématique Animale

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The influence of predation and conspecific adults on the abundance of juvenile Evechinus chloroticus (Echinoidea:Echinometridae)

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  • N. L. Andrew 1,2
  • J. H. Choat 1,2
  • 1) Leigh Marine Research Laboratory, University of Auckland, New Zealand
  • 2) Department of Zoology, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Reefs dominated by red algae, associated with high echinoid densities, are consistent features of the shallow subtidal around northeastern New Zealand. Factors determining the abundance of juvenile Evechinus chloroticus were investigated in such a habitat. Using a factorial design, a field experiment was used to assess the influence of predators and adult E. chloroticus on juvenile abundance. The use of 2 m2 exclusion cages enhanced juvenile E. chloroticus abundance over a 16 month period, an effect independent of conspecific adults. We attributed this effect to the exclusion of benthic-feeding, predatory fish. Several species forage over the study area at high densities and are known from gut content analysis to prey on juvenile E. chloroticus in the field. Invertebrate predators are at very low densities in the area. The possibility of caging and site artefacts confounding this interpretation is discussed. Adult E. chloroticus did not directly affect conspecific juvenile densities during the experimental period. However their removal produced a significant change in community structure toward one dominated by macroscopic brown algae. Echinoid removal led to rapid recruitment of laminarian and fucoid algae, predominantly Ecklonia radiata and Sargassum sinclairii. In addition, densities of herbivorous gastropods, particularly the limpet Cellana stellifera decreased in the echinoid exclusion area, as did the feeding rates of predatory fish. The consequences of E. chloroticus removal may be dependent upon the size of the area from which they are excluded. Despite the high densities of predatory fish, a low though consistent number of juvenile E. chloroticus escape predation. We suggest that these represent sufficient input into the adult grazing population to maintain the habitat. This interpretation argues against a key role for predators in structuring shallow water reef communities in northeastern New Zealand.

Catégories Science-Metrix
  • 1 - natural sciences
  • 2 - biology
  • 3 - ecology
Catégories INIST
  • 1 - sciences appliquees, technologies et medecines
  • 2 - sciences biologiques et medicales
  • 3 - sciences biologiques fondamentales et appliquees. psychologie
  • 4 - ecologie animale, vegetale et microbienne
Catégories Scopus
  • 1 - Life Sciences ; 2 - Agricultural and Biological Sciences ; 3 - Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Catégories WoS
  • 1 - science ; 2 - ecology
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