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‘Hitchhiker’ polynoid polychaetes in cold deep waters and their potential influence on benthic soft bottom food webs
Schiaparelli, S.; Alvaro, M.C.; Bohn, J.; Albertelli, G. (2010). ‘Hitchhiker’ polynoid polychaetes in cold deep waters and their potential influence on benthic soft bottom food webs. Antarctic Science 22(4): 399-407. https://dx.doi.org/10.1017/s0954102010000210
In: Antarctic Science. Cambridge University Press: Oxford. ISSN 0954-1020; e-ISSN 1365-2079, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine/Coastal
Author keywords
    Antarctica; Holothuroidea; parasitism; Polychaeta; Ross Sea; 'symbiotic'association

Authors  Top 
  • Schiaparelli, S.
  • Alvaro, M.C.
  • Bohn, J.
  • Albertelli, G.

Abstract
    We describe a new association for Antarctica, involving an holothuroid host, Bathyplotes bongraini Vaney, 1914, and a parasitic polynoid polychaete, Eunoe opalina McIntosh, 1885, which lives on the host body. Both species have never been recorded in the study area, the Ross Sea. The ecological definition of this partnership is difficult to assess, being a mix of phoresis, protective association, parasitism and, possibly, kleptocommensalism. Eunoe opalina emerges also as a true predator, ingesting several food items that do not belong to the diet of Bathyplotes. We compare this association with analogous examples known from shallow tropical environments as well as bathyal and abyssal depths. Given the conspicuous similarities between the deep water and high latitude examples of this kind of association, a possible common origin is hypothesized. Although the role of such a kind of parasitic relationships in Antarctic communities remains to be fully evaluated, it seems evident that, at high latitudes, where trophic levels are simplified and food webs do not have much redundancy, the impact of such a ‘multitasking’ predator-parasite as E. opalina might be of a greater magnitude than its shallow water tropical counterpart.

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