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Trophic ecology of the sea urchin Spatangus purpureus elucidated from gonad fatty acids composition analysis
Barberá, C.; Fernandez-Jover, D.; López Jiménez, J.A.; González Silvera, D.; Hinz, H.; Moranta, J. (2011). Trophic ecology of the sea urchin Spatangus purpureus elucidated from gonad fatty acids composition analysis. Mar. Environ. Res. 71(4): 235-246.
In: Marine Environmental Research. Applied Science Publishers: Barking. ISSN 0141-1136; e-ISSN 1879-0291, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Acids > Organic compounds > Organic acids > Fatty acids
    Sea urchins
    Sediment mixing > Bioturbation
    Rhodophyta [WoRMS]
Author keywords
    Diet; Soft red algae; Sandy bottoms; sediment; Deposit feeder; Mediterranean sea

Authors  Top | Dataset 
  • Barberá, C.
  • Fernandez-Jover, D.
  • López Jiménez, J.A.
  • González Silvera, D.
  • Hinz, H., more
  • Moranta, J.

    Irregular sea urchins such as the spatangoid Spatangus purpureus are important bioturbators that contribute to natural biogenic disturbance and the functioning of biogeochemical cycles in soft sediments. In the coastal waters of the Balearic Islands S. purpureus occurs in soft red algal beds, and can reach high densities. The diet of S. purpureus is unknown and it is particularly difficult to analyze the stomach contents of this group; therefore, we analyzed the fatty acid (FA) composition of the gonads and potential food resources in order to assess the trophic relationships of this species. The FA profiles of the gonads of S. purpureus agree well with the FA composition of the potential trophic resources (algae and sediment) and reveals changes between localities with different available resources. Three polyunsaturated FAs mainly contributes in the composition in the S. purpureus gonads: eicosapentaenoic acid (C20:5n-3) and arachidonic acid (C20:4n-6), both abundant in the macroalgal material, and palmitoleic acid (C16:1n-7), which is characteristic of sediment samples. Trophic markers of bacterial input and carnivorous feeding were significantly more abundant in sea urchins caught on bottoms with less vegetation. The current study demonstrates that the FA content of S. purpureus gonads is a useful marker of diet, as differences in the profiles reflected the variations in detritus composition. The results of this study show that this species has omnivorous feeding behavior; however, viewed in conjunction with available abundance data the results suggest that phytodetritus found within algal beds is an important carbon source for this species.

  • MEDITS-Spain: Demersal and mega-benthic species from the MEDITS (Mediterranean International Trawl Survey) project on the Spanish continental shelf between 1994 and 2009, more

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