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Marine Biology

, Volume 146, Issue 6, pp 1111–1117 | Cite as

Effect of sunlight intensity and albinism on the covering response of the Caribbean sea urchin Tripneustes ventricosus

  • Arthur J. Kehas
  • Kathleen A. Theoharides
  • John J. Gilbert
Research Article

Abstract

At Discovery Bay, Jamaica, Tripneustes ventricosus lives in beds of the turtle grass Thalassia testudinum. Especially during daylight hours, it covers its aboral surface with fragments of this plant and other objects. Normally pigmented, wild-type sea urchins covered themselves significantly less with Thalassia when sunlight was experimentally decreased to 66% or 32% ambient intensity. Consistent with this result, naturally occurring sea urchins exhibited significantly less covering at a deep (3.5 m) site than at a shallow (1 m) site, where light intensities at the bottom were 619 and 946 μmol s−1 m−2, respectively. The graded covering response to light intensity suggests that covering is a defense against damaging solar radiation. Albino sea urchins covered themselves significantly more with Thalassia than wild-type sea urchins in both full and 66% sunlight. In addition, at the shallow site where they accounted for about 4% of the population, they showed significantly greater covering than wild-type urchins. The greater covering response of albino sea urchins suggests a greater susceptibility to solar radiation.

Keywords

Photosynthetically Active Radiation Light Treatment Back Reef Full Sunlight Leaf Section 
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.

Notes

Acknowledgements

This study was conducted at the Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory (DBML), Jamaica, in the winter of 2003 as part of Dartmouth College’s Foreign Study Program in Tropical Ecology. We thank the DBML staff for facilities and hospitality, the East/West Marine Biology Program for use of their light meter, and Megan Donahue and three anonymous referees for comments that improved the manuscript. Unpublished experiments mentioned in the text were conducted in previous winters by L.C. Broughton, J.L. Butcher, D.M. Larson, K.S. Nowak, L.V. Reynolds, and D.K. Schreiber. This is publication number 692 of the DBML.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arthur J. Kehas
    • 1
  • Kathleen A. Theoharides
    • 1
  • John J. Gilbert
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesDartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA

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