The role of a symbiotic bryozoan in the chemical ecology of a marine benthic predator - prey interaction

Gray, Christopher Anthony (2001) The role of a symbiotic bryozoan in the chemical ecology of a marine benthic predator - prey interaction. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




The subtidal whelk Burnupena papyracea (Brugière) co-occurs with a voracious predator, the rock lobster Jasus lalandii (Milne Edwards), in situations where other potential prey are largely eliminated. This has been ascribed to a symbiotic bryozoan, Alcyonidium nodosum (O’Donoghue and de Watteville), which characteristically encrusts the shells of B. papyracea and deters feeding by Jasus. In this study it is shown that this is not due to physical effects of either induced physical defences in the bryozoan or increased shell strength due to the presence of the bryozoan. Neither spectroscopic screening of chemical extracts of the bryozoan nor analysis for volatile constituents revealed any apparent chemical components that are likely to deter feeding. Chemical extracts also failed to show larvicidal effects in a standard toxicity assay using the brine shrimp Artemia salina (Leach). Despite this, bioassays using individual Jasus indicated a chemical basis for feeding deterrence. The assays were run separately on three sets of Jasus and some repeats of assays gave contradictory results. However, assays showing no significant effect of treatment occurred with moulting Jasus, involved very low overall feeding rates and so gave a less convincing result. In other assays Jasus always avoided Burnupena papyracea with live Alcyonidium encrusting the shell, and food pellets containing Alcyonidium or an Alcyonidium extract. Significant preferences were shown for an unencrusted whelk, B. cincta (Röding), over B. papyracea; for B. papyracea with the bryozoan scraped off over natural B. papyracea; for B. papyracea on which the bryozoans had been killed with liquid nitrogen over untreated B. papyracea; and for food pellets prepared from ground, dried mussel over pellets prepared with dried mussel mixed with A. nodosum or its crude organic extract. It is concluded that the protection which Alcyonidium confers on Burnupena papyracea does have a chemical basis, but that the chemical responsible is either present in only trace quantities, or that it is a structurally unremarkable compound which is distasteful to Jasus. This work highlights both the advantages of using ecologically relevant bioassays (positive results when standard techniques give a negative result) and also the disadvantages (logistic constraints on sample sizes when using large test animals and individual variability in a relatively sophisticated test animal).

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Marine animals, Marine ecology, Benthic animals
Subjects:Q Science > QD Chemistry > QD241 Organic chemistry
Q Science > QL Zoology > Animal behaviour
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Zoology & Entomology
ID Code:2233
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:23 Nov 2011 08:25
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:22
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