Inter-Research > MEPS > v225 > p205-218  
Marine Ecology Progress Series

via Mailchimp

MEPS 225:205-218 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/meps225205

Specificity of cues inducing defensive spines in the bryozoan Membranipora membranacea

Erika V. Iyengar*, C. Drew Harvell

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA

ABSTRACT: Although theory pinpoints the reliability of cues as an important condition for the evolution of inducible defenses, the specificity of cues is poorly known in most systems. The bryozoan Membranipora membranacea produces long, energetically-costly spines in response to a trophically specialized nudibranch Doridella steinbergae, but the range of nudibranchs that trigger this response is unknown. We tested chemical cues from 14 nudibranch species from 4 suborders, the snail species Lacuna vincta, and an abiotic treatment (desiccation) for their ability to induce spines. Both corner spines (arising from the corners of the zoecium) and membranous spines (arising from the frontal membrane of the zooid) were observed. Of the nudibranch species tested, 57% induced corner spines in at least 1 trial: 4 predators of M. membranacea (Onchidoris muricata, Polycera zosterae, Triopha catalinae, and D. steinbergae) and 4 non-predators (Coryphella sp., Archidoris odhneri, Cadlina luteomarginata, and Dirona albolineata). Although many nudibranchs occasionally triggered spines, the spine response was most reliably and fully developed in response to the bryozoan¹s primary predator, D. steinbergae. All other species that induced corner spines, except Coryphella sp., failed to induce spines in all trials. Membranous spines were sometimes produced in response to D. steinbergae, O. muricata, P. zosterae, A. odhneri, and Coryphella sp. The last 2 species are not known to prey on M. membranacea. Neither corner nor membranous spines were ever induced by Discodoris sandiegensis, Dendronotus frondosus, Dendronotus diversicolor, Tritonia festiva, Flabellina trilineata, Phidiana crassicornis, or desiccation. Of these non-inducers, only P. crassicornis feeds on M. membranacea, and this species typically causes little damage. There was no phylogenetic pattern among nudibranchs inducing spines. The production of corner and membranous spines were correlated. Corner spines appeared to have a lower induction threshold than membranous spines; the latter are therefore a more conservative indication of induction. Counter to the hypothesis of Adler & Grünbaum, the spine-inducing chemical cue(s) from D. steinbergae is probably not a mating pheromone, as D. steinbergae egg masses and pre-reproductive slugs induced spines. We conclude that M. membranacea often produces spines in response to predators that are deterred by spines, but seems surprisingly responsive to cues from some benign nudibranch species.

KEY WORDS: Chemical ecology · Defense · Nudibranch predators · Bryozoans

Full text in pdf format