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Video study of the caprellid amphipod Parvipalpus major: morpho-functional and behavioural adaptations to deep-sea bottoms
Corbari, L.; Sorbe, J.C.; Massabuau, J.-C. (2005). Video study of the caprellid amphipod Parvipalpus major: morpho-functional and behavioural adaptations to deep-sea bottoms. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 146(2): 363-371.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Corbari, L.
  • Sorbe, J.C.
  • Massabuau, J.-C.

    We present here a morpho-functional and behavioural study of the feeding adaptations developed by a deep-sea invertebrate, the caprellid amphipod Parvipalpus major, in an environment temporarily deprived of external food supply. The animals were taken intact from bathyal muddy sediments using a classic Barnett multi-tub corer at depths ranging from 424 to 761 m. They were transferred to the laboratory, kept in tanks with their native sediment at a constant temperature (10°C) and their behaviour was studied by video analysis. Their morphology consists of elongated somites, with pereopods 5–7 ending in elongated curved dactyls, which are longer than those of more coastal species. Analysis of the literature shows that the largest caprellids inhabit the deepest and muddiest zones. This particular morpho-functional adaptation enables the species to adopt an originally erect and steady stance by fixing onto soft muddy sediment, thus improving its ability to prospect for food in its surrounding environment. For the most part, P. major balances its body at its anchorage point as it searches for food in the water column, but occasionally it bends down to the substrate, and tosses some sediment into the water column. Food is then selected from the particles that float down. Presumably, after exhausting the food supply in one area, the animal jumps into the water column and moves about a body length further on. This would appear to be an original strategy for foraging larger areas of organic matter from fixed, but temporary, positions. Finally, we show that caprellids are able to practise coprophagy. To conclude, we suggest that there is a positive correlation between body elongation and depth, with improved anchoring and coprophagy being an optimal way to conserve energy in conditions of limited diet and improve adaptation to life on deep-sea muddy bottoms.

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