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Effects of diet and temperature on post-settlement growth and survival of the short-spined sea urchin Strongylocentrotus intermedius

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Abstract

Effects of diet and temperature on post-settlement growth and survival of a sea urchin Strongylocentrotus intermedius, which fed on one of six mono-cultured benthic diatoms, gametophytes of a brown alga Undaria pinnatifida, a green alga Ulvella lens plus mixed benthic diatoms, or no food at 6, 9, 12 and 15°C, were examined. Digestion efficiency (DE), ingestion rate (IR), excretion rate (ER) and digested cell content index (DCCI) of each diatom species were measured. Growth rates largely differed among the dietary treatments from 7 days post-settlement. Sea urchins fed on a diatom Cocconeis sublittoralis showed considerably higher growth (7.85-34.67 μm day−1) than those fed on the other diets and high survival rates (100%). DCCI was also highest in C. sublittoralis. These results suggest that the quantity of diatom cell contents digested is an important factor affecting growth and survival of the sea urchins. Growth rates of sea urchins were higher in higher water temperatures, and significant differences in growth rate were observed between 6-9 and 12-15°C. ERs of C. sublittoralis were generally higher at higher temperatures, but DEs did not differ among the temperature treatments. Variations in growth rate among different water temperature appear to be caused by different food intakes of the urchins.

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