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Phytopigments and fatty acids in the gut of the deposit-feeding heart urchin Echinocardium cordatum in the southern North Sea: Selective feeding and its contribution to the benthic carbon budget
Boon, A.R.; Duineveld, G.C.A. (2012). Phytopigments and fatty acids in the gut of the deposit-feeding heart urchin Echinocardium cordatum in the southern North Sea: Selective feeding and its contribution to the benthic carbon budget. J. Sea Res. 67(1): 77-84. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.seares.2011.10.004
In: Journal of Sea Research. Elsevier/Netherlands Institute for Sea Research: Amsterdam. ISSN 1385-1101, more
Peer reviewed article

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Keywords
    Chlorophyll; Fatty acids; Selective feeding; Echinocardium cordatum (Pennant, 1777) [WoRMS]; Marine
Author keywords
    Optimal foraging

Authors  Top 
  • Boon, A.R.
  • Duineveld, G.C.A., more

Abstract
    As part of a broader study on benthic–pelagic coupling in the southern North Sea, specimens of the common heart urchin Echinocardium cordatum were sampled for analyses on phytopigments and fatty acids in their guts. Results were interpreted in the context of feeding and ecological functioning of the heart urchins in the benthic system. Ingestion selection factors for both component groups were relatively high, 5 to 9 for chlorophyll a and 9 to 130 for total fatty acids. The data point to at least partially different sources of the pigments and of the fatty acids. Next to algal detritus, small infauna relatively rich in fatty acids might be preferentially co-ingested with the detritus. Due to digestive breakdown and absorption, the concentrations of pigments and fatty acids were importantly decreased, indicating a rather high digestion efficiency for this subsurface deposit feeder, up to 80%. The results indicate that E. cordatum increases its energy acquisition by strong selectivity and a high digestive efficiency. Optimal foraging is likely to apply on deposit-feeding invertebrates in relatively food-rich coastal environments as much as it does in the food-poor deep-sea environment. Using chlorophyll a as a proxy for carbon, the contribution of the urchin population to the momentary benthic carbon budget was calculated at 7% to 42%.

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