Direct evidence of sea anemone predation on Arctic echinoids
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KeywordsPredatory Interaction Rocky Bottom Marine Realm Macroscopic Sign Empty Test
Predator–prey interactions are considered a major evolutionary driver and a key biological factor affecting recent organisms, but little is known about their influence on Arctic benthic life. It is not easy to document predatorial behaviour in situ in the marine realm, especially in polar seas, and thus usually only indirect evidence is available. Palaeoecologists use several proxies to infer predation on echinoids (Wilson et al. 2015), namely drill holes, repair scars, ejecta deposits (regurgitates), or bite marks. However, these are not adequate for predators such as sea anemones.
Kortsch et al. (2012) reported that green sea urchins in nearby fiords are involved in a long-term predatory interaction with the actiniarian Urticina eques and ascidian Halocynthia pyriformis, resulting in an inverse relationship of abundance as a response to rising seawater temperature. These echinoids are key boreal-Arctic herbivores, which have several natural antagonists apart of actiniarians (Scheibling and Hatcher 2001). Given our evidence from Isfjorden and those from elsewhere (Gulliksen et al. 1980), it is likely that actiniarian-echinoid interactions could be much more widespread taxonomically and geographically, and thus of more than regional importance.
Katarzyna Zmudczyńska-Skarbek, Piotr Kukliński, and Tadeusz Stryjek helped in the field while reviewers and Editor improved the text. START scholarships (FNP), Mare Incognitum (RIS 6575, MNiSW- E13WS025) and the NFR Marine Night (226417) provided support.
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