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Macroalgal feeding characteristics of the sea urchin diadema antillarum philippi at Discovery Bay, Jamaica
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En: CARRIBEAN JOURNAL OF SCIENCE, 37 (3-4) Dec. 2001: 227-238. bibl. gráf. tablas. mapa.
Revista: Caribbean journal of science, vol. 37, núm. 3-4; Dec. 2001
Resumen: Food choice of Diadema antillarum Philippi was investigated in 1995 at Discovery Bay, Jamaica, using a variety of laboratory experiments. In two food choice experiments, D. antillarum was offered five species of macroalgae common on shallow fore-reefs away from resident populations. The urchin was attracted towards water passing over heavily calcified Halimeda opuntia and also over less-calcified species such as Lobophora variegata. Sargassum sp. and Galaxaura sp. provoked no response when tested against pure seawater. The urchin was not selective when offered a variety of algae for consumption. However, when offeed H. opuntia or Galaxaura sp. alone over a 24 hours period, it consumed more of the heavily calcified alga. During six-week experiments, D. antillarum consumed considerably more Galaxaura sp than any other species. For D. antillarum to gain enough nutrition to live, it seems that it must feed on heavily calcified species at a greater rate than fleshier brown algal species. However, prolonged consumption of the heavily calcified H. opuntia led to spine loss and test decay in half of the test animals. Implications for community development are significant because D. antillarum consumed macroalgae previously considered unfavourable to other coral reef herbivores. With the slow rise of D. antillarum numbers over the Caribbean region, there is the potential for these animals to reduce the cover of macroalgae from coral reefs.
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