Covering behaviour of echinoids in an Arctic fjord
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KeywordsCalcareous Alga Predator Diversity Predation Intensity Shallow Water Species Multiple Logger
Several reports suggest that piling debris on the surface of echinoid skeletons, so-called ‘masking’ or ‘covering’ behaviour, provides camouflage or physical protection against predators. Others have ascribed masking in shallow water echinoids to a response to light incidence or UV radiation (e.g. Adams 2001; Verling et al. 2002). Further studies have argued that covers are used due to multiple factors (Dumont et al. 2007), including protection from desiccation or as ballast in turbulent waters. Observations from the bathyal zone (Pawson and Pawson 2013) showed that light or most factors hypothesised to cause covering in shallow water echinoids are insufficient to explain such behaviour in the deep sea and hence reinvestigations are needed.
Covered and uncovered individuals co-occur (Fig. 1b, c), while all are exposed to the same dose of light and have the same probability of being eaten. Thus, the covering behaviour adopted by a number of shallow water species worldwide accounts for non-functional interpretation, e.g. tactile reflex action, which is similar to echinoids living in bathyal settings (Pawson and Pawson 2013).
National Science Centre (NCN) grants (2011/03/N/ST10/05776, DEC-2011/01/N/NZ8/04493), the START scholarship from the Foundation for Polish Science (FNP) and “Mobilnosc Plus” provided support. Julian Gutt, Pedro Martinez Arbizu, Isaac Westfield and reviewers are acknowledged for their suggestions.
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