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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 502:207-218 (2014)  -  DOI:

Predators of the destructive sea urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis on the Norwegian coast

Camilla With Fagerli1,3,*, Kjell Magnus Norderhaug1,3, Hartvig Christie1, Morten Foldager Pedersen2, Stein Fredriksen

1Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), Gaustadalléen 21, 0341 Oslo, Norway
2Department of Environmental, Social & Spatial Change (ENSPAC), Roskilde University, PO Box 260, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark
3Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, PO Box 1066, Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: In central Norway, populations of the green sea urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis are collapsing, but the factors controlling its population density have not yet been elucidated. Through field sampling, we identified several sea urchin predators and investigated their predation rates on recently settled S. droebachiensis in laboratory experiments. Tethering experiments in kelp forest and on barren ground study sites in the area where sea urchin populations are collapsing confirmed predation by some of the predators tested in laboratory experiments. The edible crab Cancer pagurus was the most efficient sea urchin predator, and it was more abundant at kelp forest sites than on barren grounds. Stocks of C. pagurus have increased dramatically in central Norway since the 1990s, and predation by C. pagurus may contribute to the decline in sea urchin densities, allowing kelp recovery and conferring resilience of the new kelp forest state.

KEY WORDS: Predator · Cancer pagurus · Kelp recovery · Laminaria hyperborea · Barren ground

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Cite this article as: Fagerli CW, Norderhaug KM, Christie H, Pedersen MF, Fredriksen S (2014) Predators of the destructive sea urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis on the Norwegian coast. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 502:207-218.

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