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Seasonality and selectivity in the feeding ecology and reproductive biology of deep-sea bathyal holothurians

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Benjamin Wigham


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Chlorophyll and carotenoid pigments were determined from the gut sediments of five species of bathyal holothurian in the NE Atlantic, sampled shortly after the spring/summer phytoplankton bloom in 2001 and prior to the spring bloom in 2002. Three species, Laeminogone violacea, Paroriza pallens and Bathyplotes natans, sampled within a similar depth range (900-1100 m) in the summer of 2001 showed significant differences in their chlorophyll and carotenoid pigment concentrations. This suggests they may select for slightly different components from the available food resource. Four species sampled in early spring 2002, Laetmogone violacea, Paroriza pallens, Benthogone rosea and Benthothuria funebris, also had significant differences in their pigment concentrations. These species were sampled over a wider depth range (1000-3100 m) showing a bathymetric trend in pigment concentrations. There was a distinct seasonal change in the composition and concentration of the pigments, linked to a reduction in the availability of fresh organic material during autumn and winter periods. Ovarian tissue was also examined. The carotenoid pigments found in the ovary also occurred in the OM ingested by the holothurians. The dominant gonadal carotenoid pigments were beta-carotene, echinenone and zeaxanthin. The potential for using these carotenoids to gain a competitive advantage through selectivity of chlorophyll and carotenoid pigment biomarkers are discussed in relation to competition for food resources by deposit-feeders. The results were also compared with selectivity in abyssal species. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wigham BD; Hudson IR; Billett DSM; Tyler PA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Progress in Oceanography

Year: 2003

Volume: 59

Issue: 4

Pages: 381-407

ISSN (print): 0079-6611

ISSN (electronic): 1873-4472

Publisher: Pergamon


DOI: 10.1016/j.pocean.2003.11.002


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