Interspecific interactions of the sea urchin Parechinus angulosus and the effect of variations in microhabitat availability

Farquhar, Michael Robert (1994) Interspecific interactions of the sea urchin Parechinus angulosus and the effect of variations in microhabitat availability. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

Intertidal populations of the sea urchin Parechinus angulosus were examined at seven sites along the south and east coasts of South Africa. At the five southerly sites, P. angulosus occurred in allopatry, while, at the two northerly sites, it occurred in sympatry with several species of Indopacific sea urchins. At the five southerly sites, there was a significant correlation of number of sea urchins per pool with the surface area of the overhang in that pool. This relationship broke down for P. angulosus at the two northerly sites, where there was a significant correlation between these two factors for Stomopneustes variolaris. The density of populations of P. angulosus at the two northerly sites, although not significantly different from all five southerly sites, were considerably lower. There was a significant difference between the mean size of populations at the seven sites. Although no direct evidence is available, a competitive interaction between these two species is proposed to explain the observed patterns of microhabitat utilization and densities. Two series of manipulative experiments were conducted at Kowie Point, where P. angulosus occurs in sympatry, The first, involved urchin removals from three experimental sites. The percentage cover of four functional algal groups was monitored in three experimental and three unaltered control sites over a three month period in spring (Sept. - Dec.) 1993. Two 100 point 0,25m² random point quadrats were thrown at each of the six sites at approximately monthly intervals over the experimental period. Since initial cover of algae varied at the six sites, ANOV A's of the change in percentage cover of four functional algal groups were used to determine treatment effects. No treatment effects were identified for any of the four functional algal groups. There was a strong negative correlation between the percentage cover of foliose algae and encrusting coralline algae, suggesting the possibility of a competitive relationship between them. The second, involved the experimental manipulation of microhabitat availability. The blocking of overhangs, by means of cement filled bags, resulted in an approximate 50% decrease in the total number of urchins in the two experimental pools, and the two control pools without overhangs. However, in the control pool with overhangs there was a slight increase in the number of urchins over the same period. Clearly, the presence of suitable shelters, is a prerequisite for the maintenance of dense intertidal population of P. angulosus. It is proposed that, due to the exposed nature of the South African coast, intertidal populations of P.angulosus are restricted to inhabiting suitable shelters from which they emerge to feed on passing drift algae. The implications of these findings are discussed in terms of current ecological literature.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Parechinus angulosus, Sea urchin
Subjects:Q Science > QL Zoology > Invertebrates
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Zoology & Entomology
Supervisors:McQuaid, Christopher
ID Code:3427
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:20 Sep 2012 07:13
Last Modified:20 Sep 2012 07:13
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