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The role of sutures in shrinking of the test in Heliocidaris erythrogramma (Echinoidea: Echinometridae)

Abstract

A laboratory experiment was used to examine whether a decrease in the width of sutures is the basis for shrinking of the test in echinoids under conditions of low food availability and whether the body condition of sea urchins is likely to be retained when shrinking occurs. This experiment was performed with H. erythrogramma specimens collected in January 1987 from Pt. Lillias in Corio Bay, Australia. Suture widths in the test and gonad volume were significantly less (relative to body volume) in Heliocidaris erythrogramma (Val.) in the low food treatment than the high food treatment after 4 mo. These results imply that sea urchins which shrink may have a poorer body condition and be less able to reproduce than sea urchins that do not shrink. A comparison of the expected to the observed changes in suture width showed that a decrease in suture width is involved in the shrinking of the test in H. erythrogramma and may be of sufficient magnitude to fully explain the observed reduction in test size. This suggests that the amount a sea urchin may shrink under low food conditions is constrained by the degree to which the sutures can be reduced in width.

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Constable, A.J. The role of sutures in shrinking of the test in Heliocidaris erythrogramma (Echinoidea: Echinometridae). Marine Biology 117, 423–430 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00349318

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00349318

Keywords

  • Laboratory Experiment
  • Food Availability
  • Body Condition
  • Food Condition
  • High Food