Marine Biology

, Volume 84, Issue 3, pp 309–321 | Cite as

Abundance patterns of subtidal solitary ascidians in the San Juan Islands, Washington, as influenced by food preferences of the predatory snail Fusitriton oregonensis

  • C. M. Young


The assemblage of solitary ascidians in rocky subtidal habitats of the San Juan Islands, Washington, USA, is dominated numerically by a few species of stolidobranchs: Pyura haustor, Halocynthia igaboja, Cnemidocarpa finmarkiensis and Boltenia villosa. Several phlebobranch species occur abundantly only on floating docks and/or muddy bottoms, where they co-occur with P. haustor and other stolidobranchs. These patterns of abundance correlate with feeding preferences and distributional patterns of the predatory snail Fusitriton oregonensis, which occurs only in rocky subtidal sites, prefers ascidians over other invertebrates as prey and prefers phlebobranchs over stolidobranchs. With the exception of B. villosa, stolidobranchs commonly co-occuring with the snail in the rocky subtidal are not eaten. Transplants of phlebobranchs from docks to rocky subtidal sites and transplants of F. oregonensis into established dock communities suggest that predation by the snail may largely explain the observed patterns of absolute and relative abundance.


Relative Abundance Distributional Pattern Dock Food Preference Abundance Pattern 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature cited

  1. Avery, J. A.: Observations on certain aspects of the feeding habits of four species of carnivorous marine gastropods. Unpublished Report, University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratories, 29 pp. 1961Google Scholar
  2. Ayling, A. M.: The role of biological disturbance in temperate subtidal encrusting communities. Ecology 62, 830–847 (1981)Google Scholar
  3. Connell, J. H.: Community interactions on marine rocky intertidal shores. Ann. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 3, 169–192 (1972)Google Scholar
  4. Cowen, R. K.: The effect of sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher) predation on red sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus franciscanus) populations: an experimental analysis. Oecologia 58, 249–255 (1983)Google Scholar
  5. Crisp, D. J.: Settlement responses in marine organisms, pp 83–124. In: Adaptations to environment: essays on the physiology of marine animals. Ed. by R. C. Newell. New York and London: Academic Press 1976Google Scholar
  6. Day, J. A.: Feeding of the cymatiid gastropod, Agrobuccinum argus, in relation to the structure of the proboscis and secretions of the proboscis gland. Am. Zool. 9, 909–916 (1969)Google Scholar
  7. Dayton, P. K.: Competition, disturbance, and community organization: the provision and subsequent utilization of space in a rocky intertidal community. Ecol. Monogr. 44, 105–128 (1971)Google Scholar
  8. Dayton, P. K. and J. S. Oliver: An evaluation of experimental analyses of population and community patterns in benthic marine environments, pp 93–120. In: Marine benthic dynamics. Ed. by K. R. Tenore and B. C. Coull. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press 1980Google Scholar
  9. Dean, T. A. and L. E. Hurd: Development in an estuarine fouling community: the influence of early colonists on later arrivals. Oecologia 46, 295–301 (1980)Google Scholar
  10. Dethier, M. N.: Tidepools as refuges: predation and the limits of the harpacticoid copepod Tigriopus californicus (Baker). J. exp. mar. Biol. Ecol. 42, 99–111 (1980)Google Scholar
  11. Eaton, C. M.: The reproductive and feeding biology of the prosobranch gastropod, Fusitriton oregonensis (Redfield) (Fam. Cymatiidae). M. S. thesis, University of Washington, Seattle. 40 pp. 1972Google Scholar
  12. Griffiths, C. L. and J. L. Seiderer: Rock-lobsters and mussels-limitations and preferences in a predator-prey interaction. J. exp. mar. Biol. Ecol. 44, 95–109 (1980)Google Scholar
  13. Gulliksen, B.: The macrobenthic rocky-bottom fauna of Borgenfjorden, North Tröndelag, Norway. Sarsia 65, 115–138 (1980)Google Scholar
  14. Gulliksen, B. and S. H. Skjaeveland: The sea-star, Asterias rubens L., as predator on the ascidian, Ciona intestinalis (L.), in Borgenfjorden, North-Tröndelag, Norway. Sarsia 52, 15–20 (1973)Google Scholar
  15. Hancock, D. A.: The ecology of the molluscan enemies of the edible mollusc Cardium edule (L.). Proc. malacol. Soc. Lond. 34, 123–143 (1960)Google Scholar
  16. Hines, A. H., and J. S. Pearse: Abalones, shells and sea otters: dynamic of prey populations in central California. Ecology 63, 1547–1560 (1982)Google Scholar
  17. Keough, M. J., and B. J. Downes: Recruitment of marine invertebrates: the role of active larval choices and early mortality. Oecologia 54, 348–352 (1982)Google Scholar
  18. Kitching, J. A. and F. J. Ebling: Ecological studies at Lough Ine. Adv. Ecol. Res. 4, 197–289 (1967)Google Scholar
  19. Lambert, G.: The general ecology and growth of a solitary ascidian, Corella willmeriana. Biol. Bull. mar. biol. Lab., Woods Hole 135, 296–307 (1968)Google Scholar
  20. Laxton, J. H.: Feeding in some Australian Cymatiidae (Gastropoda: Prosobranchia). Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 50, 1–9 (1971)Google Scholar
  21. Lubchenco, J.: Plant species diversity in a marine intertidal community: importance of herbivore food preference and algal competitive abilities. Am. Nat. 112, 23–39 (1978)Google Scholar
  22. McCloskey, L. R.: Development of ecological aspects of the echinospira shell of Lamellaria rhombica. Ophelia 10, 155–168 (1973)Google Scholar
  23. McCormack, S. M. D.: The maintenance of shore-level size gradients in an intertidal snail (Littorina sitkana). Oecologia 54, 177–183 (1982)Google Scholar
  24. Mauzey, K. D., C. Birkeland and P. K. Dayton: Feeding behavior of asteroids and escape responses of their prey in Puget Sound. Ecology 49, 603–619 (1968)Google Scholar
  25. Mook, D. H.: Effects of disturbance and initial settlement on fouling community structure. Ecology 62, 522–526 (1981)Google Scholar
  26. Moore, P. G.: The role of habitat selection in determining the local distribution of animals in the sea. Mar. behav. Physiol. 3, 97–100 (1975)Google Scholar
  27. Murdoch, W. W. and A. Oaten: Predation and population stability. Adv. Ecol. Res. 9, 1–131 (1975)Google Scholar
  28. Paine, R. T.: Food web complexity and species diversity. Am. Nat. 100, 65–75 (1966)Google Scholar
  29. Paine, R. T.: Intertidal community structure. Experimental studies on the relationship between a dominant competitor and its principal oredator. Oecologia 15, 93–120 (1974)Google Scholar
  30. Pielou, E. C.: Mathematical ecology, 384 pp. New York: John Wiley and Sons 1977Google Scholar
  31. Scheltema, R. S.: Biological interactions determining larval settlement of marine invertebrates. Thal. jugos. 10, 263–296 (1974)Google Scholar
  32. Schmidt, G. H. and G. H. Warner: Effects of caging on the development of a sessile epifaunal community. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 15, 251–263 (1984)Google Scholar
  33. Schmitt, R.J.: Consequences of dissimilar defenses against predation in a subtidal marine community. Ecology 63, 1588–1601 (1982)Google Scholar
  34. Sebens, K. P.: Intertidal distribution of zoanthids on the Caribbean coast of Panama: effects of predation and desiccation. Bull. mar. Sci. 32, 316–335 (1982)Google Scholar
  35. Shelford, V., A. Weese, L. Rice, D. Rasmussen and A. MacLean: Some marine biotic communities of the Pacific Coast of North America, Pt. l. Ecol. Monogr 5, 249–332 (1935)Google Scholar
  36. Shimek, R. L.: The biology of the Northeastern Pacific Turridae. III. The habitat and diet of Kurtziella plumbea (Hinds, 1843). Veliger 26, 10–17 (1983)Google Scholar
  37. Sloan, N. A. and S. M. C. Robinson: Winter feeding by asteroids on a subtidal sandbed in British Columbia. Ophelia 22, 125–140 (1983)Google Scholar
  38. Smith, M. J.: The blood cells and tunic of the ascidian Halocynthia aurantium (Pallas). I. Hematology, tunic morphology, and partition of cells between blood and tunic. Biol. Bull. mar. biol. Lab., Woods Hole 138, 354–378 (1970)Google Scholar
  39. Summerson, H. C. and C. H. Peterson: Role of predation in organizing benthic communities of a temperate-zone seagrass bed. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 15, 63–77 (1984)Google Scholar
  40. Sutherland, J.: Multiple stable points in natural communities. Am. Nat. 108, 859–873 (1974)Google Scholar
  41. Svane, I.: Ascidian reproductive patterns related to long-term population dynamics. Sarsia 68, 249–255 (1983)Google Scholar
  42. Svane, I., and T. Lundalv: Reproductive patterns and population dynamics of Ascidia mentula O. F. Müller on the Swedish west coast. J. exp. mar. Biol. Ecol. 50, 163–182 (1981)Google Scholar
  43. Thorson, G.: Reproductive and larval ecology of marine bottom invertebrates. Biol. Rev. 25, 1–45 (1950)Google Scholar
  44. Underwood, A. J. and E. J. Denley: Paradigms, explanations and generalizations in models for the structure of intertidal communities on rocky shores, pp 151–180 In: Ecological communities: conceptual issues and the evidence. Ed. by D. R. Strong, D. Simberloff, L. G. Abele and A. B. Thistle. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1984Google Scholar
  45. Vance, R. R.: A mutualistic interaction between a sessile marine clam and its epibionts. Ecology 59, 679–685 (1978)Google Scholar
  46. Vance, R. R.: Effects of grazing by the sea urchin, Centrostephanus coronatus, on prey community composition. Ecology 60, 537–546 (1979)Google Scholar
  47. Watanabe, J. M.: The influence of recruitment, competition, and benthic predation on spatial distributions of three species of kelp forest gastropods (Trochidae: Tegula). Ecology 65, 920–936 (1984)Google Scholar
  48. Whittam, T. S., and D. Siegel-Causey: Species incidence functions and Alaska seabird colonies. J. Biogeogr 8, 421–425 (1981)Google Scholar
  49. Woodin, S.A.: Adult-larval interactions in dense infaunal assemblages: patterns of abundance. J. mar. Res. 34, 25–41 (1976)Google Scholar
  50. Young, C. M.: Larval behavior, predation and early post-settling mortality as determinants of spatial distribution in subtidal solitary ascidians of the San Juan Islands, Washington. Ph. D. dissertation, University of Alberta, 260 pp. 1982Google Scholar
  51. Young, C. M. and L. F. Braithwaite. Larval behavior and post-settling morphology in the ascidian, Chelysoma productum Stimpson. J. exp. mar. Biol. Ecol. 42, 157–169 (1980)Google Scholar
  52. Young, C. M. and F. S. Chia: Microhabitat-associated variability in survival and growth of solitary ascidians during the first 21 days after settlement. Mar Biol. 81, 61–68 (1984)Google Scholar
  53. Young, C. M. and F. S. Chia. Abundance and distribution of pelagic larvae, as influenced by predatory, behavioral and hydrographic factors. In: Reproduction of marine invertebrates, vol. 9. Ed. by A. C. Giese and J. S. Pearse. New York and London: Academic Press (In press)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. M. Young
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

Personalised recommendations