Effects of epibiosis on consumer-prey interactions .

Wahl, Martin , Hay, M. E. and Enderlein, P. (1997) Effects of epibiosis on consumer-prey interactions . Hydrobiologia, 355 (1/3). pp. 49-59. DOI 10.1023/A:1003054802699.

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In many benthic communities predators play a crucial role in the population dynamics of their prey. Surface characteristics of the prey are important for recognition and handling by the predator. Because the establishment of an epibiotic assemblage on the surface of a basibiont species creates a new interface between the epibiotized organism and its environment, we hypothesised that epibiosis should have an impact on consumer-prey interactions. In separate investigations, we assessed how epibionts on macroalgae affected the susceptibility of the latter to herbivory by the urchin Arbacia punctulata and how epibionts on the blue mussel Mytilus edulis affected its susceptibility to predation by the shore crab Carcinus maenas.

Some epibionts strongly affected consumer feeding behavior. When epibionts were more attractive than their host, consumer pressure increased. When epibionts were less attractive than their host or when they were repellent, consumer pressure decreased. In systems that are controlled from the top-down, epibiosis can strongly influence community dynamics. For the Carcinus/Mytilus system that we studied, the insitu distribution of epibionts on mussels reflected the epibiosis-determined preferences of the predator. Both direct and indirect effects are involved in determining these epibiont-prey-consumer interactions.

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: Kiel University
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1023/A:1003054802699
ISSN: 0018-8158
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2014 14:57
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2014 10:32
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/23199

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