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Nematocyst complements of nudibranchs in the genus Flabellina in the Gulf of Maine and the effect of diet manipulations on the cnidom of Flabellina verrucosa
Frick, K.E. (2005). Nematocyst complements of nudibranchs in the genus Flabellina in the Gulf of Maine and the effect of diet manipulations on the cnidom of Flabellina verrucosa. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 147(6): 1313-1321. hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00227-005-0034-1
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

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  • Frick, K.E.

Abstract
    Aeolid nudibranchs maintain functional nematocysts, which are sequestered from the nudibranchs’ cnidarian prey and provide protection against predators. Some species exhibit extensive variation in incorporated nematocysts, while others maintain a limited number of types. This study examines the apparent diversity in uptake and patterns of nematocyst incorporation among related species. Nematocyst complements were described for four Gulf of Maine nudibranch species in the genus Flabellina exhibiting a variety of feeding strategies and prey specificities. Diet manipulations were performed to examine the response to changing nematocyst availability using a generalist consumer, Flabellina verrucosa, to assess nematocyst uptake based on diet. The flabellinid species examined exhibited significant differences in nematocyst incorporation, reflecting differences in their specificity as predators and nematocyst types available in their natural prey. The nematocyst complement of F. verrucosa was the most variable and differed among collection regions. When diet was manipulated, nematocyst uptake depended on the prey the nudibranchs consumed, but when offered a variety of prey, F. verrucosa selectively preferred nematocysts from scyphistomae. The observed variation in nematocyst uptake among species and regions probably relates to environmental disparities among populations.

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