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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 663:223-228 (2021)  -  DOI:

High mucous-mesh production by the ascidian Herdmania momus

Aviv Ben Tal1,2, Noa Shenkar2,3, Ariella Paz1, Keats Conley4, Kelly Sutherland4, Gitai Yahel1,*

1The Faculty of Marine Sciences, Ruppin Academic Center, Michmoret 4029700, Israel
2School of Zoology, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 6997801, Israel
3Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Israel National Center for Biodiversity Studies, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 6997801, Israel
4Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Suspension feeders, including ascidians (Phylum Chordata, Class Ascidiacea), experience a dilute prey field composed of extremely small particles. The filtration apparatus of ascidians is based on a mucous-mesh that is continuously secreted and ingested. The rate and metabolic cost of this mesh secretion has not been quantified to date. We used video boroscopy to quantify the mucous-mesh production rate of the solitary ascidian Herdmania momus under different food and temperature treatments. H. momus individuals with an average (±95% CI) biomass of 30.7 ± 1.1 mg and a branchial sac area of 10.3 ± 1.2 cm2 produced an average of 276 ± 33.5 cm2 of mucous-mesh h-1, corresponding to a median turnover rate of 625 ± 82 mesh d-1. Since the mean mesh mass was 2.44 ± 0.58 mg, this production rate corresponds to roughly 50 ± 8 times the individual’s biomass per day. Food concentration had no detectable effect on mesh production rate, whereas a temperature difference of ~9°C (20 vs. 29°C) moderately increased mesh production by 30-50%. The current study reveals that the feeding process of H. momus involves a high expenditure on mucous-mesh synthesis that, combined with low food availability, may limit its growth in oligotrophic waters and under changing climate regimes.

KEY WORDS: Filter-feeding invertebrates · Invasive species · Metabolism · Oligotrophic conditions · Suspension feeding · Tunicate biology

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Cite this article as: Ben Tal A, Shenkar N, Paz A, Conley K, Sutherland K, Yahel G (2021) High mucous-mesh production by the ascidian Herdmania momus. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 663:223-228.

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