Macroalgal assemblage type affects predation pressure on sea urchins by altering adhesion strength

Paola Gianguzza, Chiara Bonaviri, Vega Fernández, Badalamenti

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22 Citations (Scopus)


In the Mediterranean, sea breams are the most effective Paracentrotus lividus and Arbacia lixula predators. Generally, seabreams dislodge adult urchins from the rocky substrate, turn them upside down and crush their tests. Sea urchins may respond to fish attacks clinging tenaciously to the substratum. This study is the first attempt to investigate sea urchin adhesion strength in two alternative algal assemblages of the rocky infralittoral and valuated its possible implication for fish predation. We hypothesized that (1) sea urchin adhesion strength is higher in rocky shores dominated by encrusting macro-algae (ECA) than in erected macro algae (EMA); (2) predation rates upon sea urchins are lower in ECA than in EMA; and (3) predation rate on A. lixula is lower than that on P. lividus. We observed that attachment tenacity of both sea urchins was higher in ECA than EMA and that A. lixula exhibited a stronger attachment tenacity than P. lividus in ECA. Results supported the importance of adhesion strength, as efficient defence against sea bream attacks, only for, P. lividus. A. lixula adhesion strength does not seem to be an important factor in avoiding fish predation, possibly because of the low palatability of the species.These patterns may deserve particular interest in understanding the processes responsible for the maintenance of sea urchin barrens that are dominated by ECA assemblage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-86
Number of pages5
JournalMarine Environmental Research
Publication statusPublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution


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