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The role of Asterina stellifera (Echinodermata: Asteroidea) as a predator in a rocky intertidal community in southern Brazil

By Patrícia Calil, Rosana M. da Rocha, Carolina A. Freire and James J. Roper


Populations of Asterina stellifera Möbius, 1859 are declining in southern Brazil and today the species is on the Brazilian list of endangered species. Here we experimentally investigate the ecological role played by A. stellifera as a predator on the rocky substrate community by increasing densities of this species. Starfish taken from other, nearby, locations were added to three replicate plots and their density was maintained every 15 days. None of the total of 32 species that were identified in the encrusting community appeared to be influenced by the experiment. Two species, the barnacle Chthamalus bisinuatus Pilsbry, 1916 and the algae Gracilaria verrucosa (Hudson), showed small apparent responses to predation. We found that A. stellifera only exerts weak predation pressure on the community, even at high densities. This result is strikingly different from that observed for similar species in the northern hemisphere and in Australia

Topics: Experiment, predation, rocky coast, starfish, LCC:Zoology, LCC:QL1-991, LCC:Science, LCC:Q, DOAJ:Zoology, DOAJ:Biology, DOAJ:Biology and Life Sciences
Publisher: Sociedade Brasileira de Zoologia
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1590/S1984-46702009000200010
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