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Behavioral ecology of strongylocentrotus droebachiensis echinodermata echinoidea aggregating behavior and chemo taxis


, : Behavioral ecology of strongylocentrotus droebachiensis echinodermata echinoidea aggregating behavior and chemo taxis. Oecologia (Berlin) 37(1): 77-84

Field observation indicated that extensive aggregation behavior occurs in S. droebachiensis, an important echinoid herbivore in rocky subtidal zones of northern New England [USA]. The relationship of this behavior to the behavioral ecology of this species was investigated. Laboratory studies indicated that urchins are chemically sensitive to the stimuli of food and other urchins. Quantitative field experiments with tagged animals and transects showed the existence of 2 types of aggregations: feeding and nonfeeding. Depending upon their hunger state, urchins shuttle between feeding aggregations in exposed locations and non-feeding aggregations located in relatively sheltered areas (where they spend most of their time). Individuals of S. droebachiensis aggregate actively through response to other urchins in the form of chemotaxis. The aggregative behavior may be maintained for its selective value in terms of defense from predation and, to lesser extents, facilitation of feeding and breeding.

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