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Benthic ctenophores (Platyctenida: Coeloplanidae) in South Florida: predator–prey interactions
Glynn, P.W.; Coffman, B.; Primov, K.D.; Moorhead, S.G.; Vanderwoude, J.; Barrales, R.N.; Williams, M.K.; Roemer, R.P. (2018). Benthic ctenophores (Platyctenida: Coeloplanidae) in South Florida: predator–prey interactions. Invertebr. Biol. 137(2): 133-150. https://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/ivb.12212
In: Invertebrate biology. Blackwell Publishing: Lawrence, Kan.. ISSN 1077-8306; e-ISSN 1744-7410, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Glynn, P.W.
  • Coffman, B.
  • Primov, K.D.
  • Moorhead, S.G.
  • Vanderwoude, J.
  • Barrales, R.N.
  • Williams, M.K.
  • Roemer, R.P.

Abstract
    The primary goal of this study was to demonstrate, from field observations and laboratory experiments, some key trophic roles of benthic ctenophores as predators and prey in subtropical communities. We examined individuals of two benthic platyctenid species: Coeloplana waltoni, a minute epibiont on octocorals in exposed, open‐water settings; and Vallicula multiformis, an associate of calm‐water biofouling communities and floating Sargassum spp. Laboratory observations of individuals of both ctenophore species revealed frequent capture and ingestion of diverse zooplankton taxa, especially crustaceans. Laboratory predation trials demonstrated the capture of dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus) eggs and larvae by both ctenophore species. Dolphinfish eggs and larvae larger than individuals of C. waltoni were captured but not ingested during 2‐h trial periods. These prey items were sometimes purloined and ingested by polyps of the ctenophore's octocoral host. Ingestion of dolphinfish eggs and larvae by individuals of C. waltoni was observed, however, after longer periods of exposure to prey. In predation trials, dolphinfish eggs and larvae were both captured and ingested by larger individuals of the ctenophore species V. multiformis. Field and laboratory observations revealed diverse invertebrate and fish taxa that prey on both ctenophore species. In the laboratory, the mean daily per capita consumption of individuals of C. waltoni by a pomacanthid fish ranged 0.5–2.8 individuals, and ranged 2.6–3.6 individuals for predation by an ovulid mollusc. Field population densities of these predators ranged 0.1–0.7 individuals per m2 for the pomacanthid, and 0.2–1.1 individuals per m2 for the mollusc. Laboratory feeding observations demonstrated frequent consumption of individuals of V. multiformis by a sea anemone, and by three species of brachyuran crabs. Field observations revealed eight fishes that probably feed incidentally on individuals of V. multiformis. These findings add to the limited knowledge base of predator–prey dynamics in both C. waltoni and V. multiformis.

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