Effects of the Red Sea Urchin on Benthic Invertebrate Communities: A Link to Spatial Subsidies

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Effects of the Red Sea Urchin on Benthic Invertebrate Communities: A Link to Spatial Subsidies

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Title: Effects of the Red Sea Urchin on Benthic Invertebrate Communities: A Link to Spatial Subsidies
Author: Whippo, R; Lowe, A; Britton-Simmons, K
Abstract: The red urchin (Strongylocentrotus franciscanus) is a ubiquitous member of the San Juan Archipelago (SJA) marine ecosystem ranging from the shallow subtidal to depths greater than 100 m. Despite the absence of attached algae on which to feed in the deep subtidal, red urchins are quite common in these ecosystems. They are able to subsist primarily on detrital seaweeds produced in the shallow photic zone, capturing these fluxes of organic material from the water column using their spines. Red urchins are known to regulate community structure in shallow algal habitats, but very little is known about interactions between urchins and the surrounding community in the deep subtidal. This study tested the hypothesis that red sea urchins alter benthic invertebrate community structure and abundance patterns in the deep subtidal zone. This was accomplished through the use of underwater photography across two sites in the San Juan Channel. Analysis revealed that sea urchins are significantly altering abundance patterns of sessile fauna in the subtidal, while effects on mobile fauna were present but less clear.
Description: American Academy of Underwater Sciences (http://www.aaus.org/)
URI: http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/10128
Date: 2011

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