Associational resistance of blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) against starfish (Asterias rubens) predation: relative importance of structural and chemical properties of the epibionts..

Laudien, J. and Wahl, Martin (2004) Associational resistance of blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) against starfish (Asterias rubens) predation: relative importance of structural and chemical properties of the epibionts.. Open Access Helgoland Marine Research, 58 (3). pp. 162-167. DOI 10.1007/s10152-004-0181-7.

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Abstract

Several epibiotic species reduce starfish (Asterias rubens) preference for the blue mussel Mytilus edulis in the Baltic. The aim of this study was to reveal whether this associational resistance was caused by structural or chemical aspects of the different epibionts. To assess structural epibiont effects, an in situ experiment was conducted with unfouled mussels and mussels equipped with artificial epibionts ('dummies') exposed to natural predation by A. rubens. The chemically inert dummies closely matched the structural properties of the locally common epibionts Balanus improvisus (barnacle), Ceramium strictum (red alga), Halichondria panicea (sponge), and Laomedea flexuosa (hydrozoan). Starfish fed indiscriminately in all treatments. Chemical effects of epibionts on the attractiveness of mussels for A. rubens were investigated by incorporating freeze-dried epibionts or mussel tissue into Phytagel pellets at natural concentrations. Starfish were allowed to choose among these structurally similar but chemically different prey items in an in vitro experiment. The predators exhibited significant preferences among the food pellets, which closely matched their preferences for corresponding natural mussel-epibiont associations. Thus, chemical aspects of epibionts appear to play a larger role in this associational resistance than do structural aspects. Implications of these indirect interactions for benthic communities are discussed.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Asterias rubens; Mytilus edulis; epibiosis; structural vs. chemical defence; associational resistance
Research affiliation: AWI
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EOE-B Experimental Ecology - Benthic Ecology
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1007/s10152-004-0181-7
ISSN: 1438-387X
Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2009 10:15
Last Modified: 28 May 2018 09:02
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/7153

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