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Covering behaviour in Paracentrotus lividus: is light important?


"Covering" or "heaping" behaviour is common to a number of regular echinoids living in a variety of different habitats. Many theories have been proposed to explain this behaviour, among which are several that link covering to light, including ultraviolet (UV) light. However, previous investigations of this light theory have been largely qualitative. In the present study, we used a systematic laboratory protocol to examine quantitatively the covering behaviour of the shallow water echinoid, Paracentrotus lividus, under four different light regimes: white light (400–700 nm), UV-A+B (315–400 nm), UV-A (320–400 nm), and darkness. These experiments demonstrated that light, in particular UV light, influences the covering behaviour of P. lividus. Under the UV regimes, significantly more individuals were found to display covering behaviour, and individuals spent more time at the base of aquaria, farthest from the light source. Moreover, covering items were retained for the longest period of time under the UV-A+B regime. We propose that protection against the harmful effects of UV radiation may be one of the functions of covering behaviour in P. lividus.

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Verling, .E., Crook, .A. & Barnes, .D. Covering behaviour in Paracentrotus lividus: is light important?. Marine Biology 140, 391–396 (2002).

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  • Radiation
  • Light Source
  • Shallow Water
  • Previous Investigation
  • Harmful Effect