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Grazing effects of the sea urchin Tetrapygus niger and the snail Tegula atra on a rocky shore of central Peru

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 August 2013

Fernando J. Hidalgo*
Affiliation:
Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras (IIMyC), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Laboratorio de Ecología, Departamento de Biología (FCEyN), Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, CC 573 Correo Central, 7600 Mar del Plata, Argentina
Fausto N. Firstater
Affiliation:
Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras (IIMyC), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Laboratorio de Ecología, Departamento de Biología (FCEyN), Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, CC 573 Correo Central, 7600 Mar del Plata, Argentina Instituto de Biología Marina y Pesquera Almirante Storni–IBMPAS–UNCo, Güemes 1030, San Antonio Oeste 8520, Argentina
Betina J. Lomovasky
Affiliation:
Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras (IIMyC), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Laboratorio de Ecología, Departamento de Biología (FCEyN), Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, CC 573 Correo Central, 7600 Mar del Plata, Argentina
Oscar O. Iribarne
Affiliation:
Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras (IIMyC), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Laboratorio de Ecología, Departamento de Biología (FCEyN), Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, CC 573 Correo Central, 7600 Mar del Plata, Argentina
*
Correspondence should be addressed to: F.J. Hidalgo, Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras (IIMyC), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Laboratorio de Ecología, Departamento de Biología (FCEyN), Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, CC 573 Correo Central, 7600 Mar del Plata, Argentina email: fhidalgo@mdp.edu.ar

Abstract

Here we describe habitat use and the grazing effects of the sea urchin Tetrapygus niger and the gastropod Tegula atra in the low intertidal zone of a rocky shore in central Peru (Ancón bay: 11°46′S 77°12′W), where these two species were documented as coexisting with no evidence of habitat segregation between them. Gut content and isotopic analyses revealed differences between their diets: T. atra consumes mainly microalgae while Tetrapygus niger consumed also benthic macroalgae. Individual grazing effects were evaluated with inclusion/exclusion experiments. Tetrapygus niger prevented the colonization of the substrate by sessile organisms, including the dominant mussel Semimytilus algosus, while Tegula atra reduced the abundance of microalgae and green ephemeral macroalgae during early succession, but these effects were overwhelmed by the rapid increase in cover of S. algosus. We suggest that Tetrapygus niger plays a key role in this low intertidal community. Through directly limiting mussels to monopolize the substratum, T. niger can reduce the diversity of mussel associated species; conversely, through controlling primary space holders, T. niger can also benefit other grazers that live on bare substrate by maintaining a suitable area for feeding or living.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 2013 

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