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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Dense aggregations of green sea urchins at subtidal sites in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence may promote cannibalism through increased conspecific interactions and competition for scarce kelp. Photo: K. MacGregor

LeGault KN, Hunt HL


Cannibalism among green sea urchins, Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis, in the laboratory and field

Cannibalism between size classes of the green sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis, occurs readily in the laboratory and the field. Adult and larger juvenile S. droebachiensis consumed 20 to 25% of small juvenile (3–6 mm) conspecifics over a 4 wk period in the laboratory. Gut content analyses of adults collected from the Gulf of the St. Lawrence indicated that cannibalism occurs frequently between size classes. Cannibalism rates were estimated to be between 0 and 68 urchins consumed m–2 wk–1, suggesting that cannibalism may be a major source of mortality for small juveniles in subtidal barren grounds.


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