Sediment patch selectivity in tropical sea cucumbers (Holothurioidea: Aspidochirotida) analysed with multiple choice experiments

Uthickeab, S. and Karez, Rolf (1999) Sediment patch selectivity in tropical sea cucumbers (Holothurioidea: Aspidochirotida) analysed with multiple choice experiments Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 236 . pp. 69-87. DOI 10.1016/S0022-0981(98)00190-7.

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To investigate patch selectivity in aspidochirotide holothurians, individuals of five species (Holothuria (Halodeima) atra Jäger, H. (H.) edulis Lesson, H. (Microthele) nobilis Selenka, Stichopus chloronotus Brandt and S. variegatus Semper) were subjected to multiple choice experiments. As a food source, sediments were pre-cultivated in petri dishes under different light and nutrient regimes. This resulted in four sediment treatments with different levels of microalgal biomass (measured as chlorophyll a and phaeophytin concentrations). Only two sediment treatments were used for experiments with H. nobilis and S. variegatus. The sediments were offered simultaneously to individual holothurians (six per experiment), and the weights of the sediment in each petri dish at the start and after 48 h were used to calculate a selection index together with confidence intervals for each food type. In experiments with H. atra and H. edulis, the animals exhibited no preference for any food type. In contrast, S. chloronotus significantly selected sediments with the highest contents of microalgae and avoided the sediment with the lowest pigment concentrations. These results were supported by field collections of sediments found directly underneath holothurians. Sediment underneath H. edulis did not differ from the average sediment of the habitat, while H. atra was found on sediments only slightly higher in chlorophyll a. Chlorophyll a concentrations underneath S. chloronotus were distinctly higher than in the adjacent sediment and that underneath H. atra. H. nobilis showed only a weak preference for sediments with higher pigment concentrations in aquarium experiments, and no patch selectivity in this species was found in the field. Stichopus variegatus exhibited a very distinct patch selectivity towards sediments with more nutritional value in both aquaria experiments and field measurements. Thus members of the genus Holothuria had no, or only a weak, tendency to select their food source, whereas both Stichopus species appeared to carefully select the sediment patch to feed on.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Multiple choice; Patch selectivity; Sediment quality
Research affiliation: OceanRep > Institute for Marine Science Kiel
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1016/S0022-0981(98)00190-7
ISSN: 0022-0981
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2008 17:24
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2017 12:00

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