California spiny lobster preference for urchins from kelp forests: implications for urchin barren persistence

Eurich, J.G., Selden, R.L., and Warner, R.R. (2014) California spiny lobster preference for urchins from kelp forests: implications for urchin barren persistence. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 498. pp. 217-225.

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Overfishing of urchin predators, in combination with natural disturbances, has been linked to an increase in the occurrence of urchin barrens. Marine reserves have been proposed as a means to re-establish the interactions between urchins and their predators in California kelp forests. Whether increased densities of lobsters and other predators in reserves are sufficient to convert barrens back to kelp forests depends on the degree to which predators avoid urchins from barren habitats. Urchins from these barrens may be less appealing to predators due to their diminished gonad production and thus decreased quality. In this study, we compared consumption rates of California spiny lobster Panulirus interruptus on purple urchins Strongylocentrotus purpuratus that were collected from kelp forests or from urchin barrens. All size classes of lobster prefer urchins from kelp forests relative to those from barrens and will actively select kelp-bed urchins when given a choice. Lobsters also showed higher consumption rates of kelp-bed urchins when either kelp-bed or barren urchins were presented alone. The large size class of lobsters consumed more and larger urchins than did smaller size classes of lobsters. These results suggest a potential mechanism for the persistence of urchin barrens despite high lobster densities and indicate that lobster foraging preferences may delay phase shifts from barrens back to kelp forests. The results also suggest that preferential foraging by lobsters on kelp-bed urchins may increase the resistance of kelp-beds to changes in state.

Item ID: 34186
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1616-1599
Keywords: lobster, panulirus, urchin, strongylocentrotus, kelp forest, urchin barren, predation, phase shift
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I was not affiliated with JCU during the research, writing, or publication process.

Funders: University of California, Santa Barbara, National Science Foundation (USA)
Date Deposited: 23 Jul 2014 00:42
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 55%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 15%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0704 Fisheries Sciences > 070403 Fisheries Management @ 30%
SEO Codes: 83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8302 Fisheries - Wild Caught > 830206 Wild Caught Rock Lobster @ 40%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 60%
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