Diel foraging patterns of the sea urchin Centrostephanus coronatus as a predator avoidance strategy

  • Nelson B
  • Vance R
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During the day, the diadematid sea urchin Centrostephanus coronatus occupies holes and crevices in shallow subtidal rocky substrata. Individuals emerge from these after sunset and forage on organisms attached to the surrounding rock surface. Each urchin travels Pimelometopon pulchrum does not remove urchins from their shelters, but will attack and consume urchins placed in normal feeding locations during the daytime. The active periods of the sheephead and the urchin do not overlap; urchins begin foraging about 20 min after the diurnal sheephead retire in the evening and return to their shelters 1 to 2 h before sheephead resume feeding in the morning. We infer that the urchin's daytime crevice-dwelling and nocturnal foraging habits have evolved as a response to sheephead predation. Moreover, because shelters are limited in supply, shelter fidelity may have evolved to insure refuge from sheephead.

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  • B. V. Nelson

  • R. R. Vance

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