Spatial distribution patterns, abundance and reproductive effort of the starfish Echinaster (Othilia) paucispinus along an environmental gradient in a Caribbean mangrove ecosystem

  • Wilber J. Bernay-Alfonzo
  • Raymundo Hurtado-Carreño
  • Edlin J. Guerra-Castro
Original Paper
  • 33 Downloads

Abstract

Asteroids of the genus Echinaster are key predators in several benthic coastal ecosystems. Despite their ecological importance, little is known about the population biology of these species, including the response to coastal environmental heterogeneity. This manuscript aims to describe population features (spatial distribution, abundance and density) and reproductive traits of Echinaster (Othilia) paucispinus in a hypersaline wetland under the hypotheses of potential effects of the environmental gradient. Along the gradient, the densities of E. (O.) paucispinus were far higher than any previously reported for this genus. Strong zonation patterns were detected for size, fertility and abundance; however, instead of spatial variation associated with the environmental gradient, the differences were detected between the center and the extremes of the gradient. The extremes were inhabited by more dispersed, larger, mature organisms, while the intermediate region was characterized by high densities of aggregated, small, immature individuals. Temporal variability in reproductive characteristics was considerably lower than spatial variability. Based on these results, it seems that the population of E. (O.) paucispinus at Laguna de La Restinga is governed by pre-settlement processes, rather than by environmental variability along the gradient.

Keywords

Asteroidea Reproductive effort Population structure Caribbean Sea RAMSAR site 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This work was funded by Consejo de Investigación, Universidad de Oriente, Venezuela, under grant No. CI 06-030601-1926-14. Special thanks to Prof. Juan Bolaños (1954-2015) and Régulo López for facilitating almost every aspect of the laboratory and field logistics. Comments from Dr. Roger Sepúlveda, Dr. Iván Hernandez, and Dr. Juan J. Cruz-Motta helped improve this article substantially. Our gratitude is also extended to M.Sc. Rodrigo Lazo and Prof. Sheila Marques.

Supplementary material

12526_2017_807_MOESM1_ESM.docx (402 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 401 kb)
12526_2017_807_MOESM2_ESM.csv (54 kb)
ESM 2 (CSV 53 kb)

References

  1. Anderson M, Braak CT (2003) Permutation tests for multi-factorial analysis of variance. J Stat Comput Simul 73:85–113.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00949650215733 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson MJ, Gorley RN, Clarke KR (2008) PERMANOVA for PRIMER: guide to software and statistical methods. PRIMER-E Ltd, PlymouthGoogle Scholar
  3. Benítez-Villalobos F, Díaz-Martínez JP (2010) Reproductive patterns of the abyssal asteroid Styracaster elongatus from the N.E. Atlantic Ocean. Deep-Sea Res I Oceanogr Res Pap 57:157–161.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr.2009.09.006 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Binyon J (1972) Salinity tolerance and osmoregulation. In: Binyon J, Kerkut GA (eds) Physiology of echinoderms. Pergamon Press, Great Britain, pp 33–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bos AR, Gumanao GS, Alipoyo JCE, Cardona LT (2008) Population dynamics, reproduction and growth of the indo-Pacific horned sea star, Protoreaster nodosus (Echinodermata; Asteroidea). Mar Biol 156:55–63.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-008-1064-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Clark AM (1987) Notes on Atlantic and other Asteroidea. 5. Echinasteridae. Bulletin of the British museum (Natural history). Zoology 53:65–78Google Scholar
  7. Clark AM, Downey ME (1992) Starfishes of the Atlantic vol 3. Natural history museum publications. Chapman & Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  8. Downey ME (1973) Starfishes from the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Smithson Contrib Zool 126:158Google Scholar
  9. Ebert TA, Hernandez JC, Russell MP (2011) Problems of the gonad index and what can be done: analysis of the purple sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. Mar Biol 158:47–58.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-010-1541-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ferguson JC (1969) Feeding activity in Echinaster and its induction with dissolved nutrients. Biol Bull 136:374–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ferguson JC (1975) Fatty acid and carbohydrate storage in the annual reproductive cycle of Echinaster. Comp Biochem Physiol A Physiol 52:585–590.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0300-9629(75)80004-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Franz DR, Worley EK, Merrill AS (1981) Distribution patterns of common seastars of the middle Atlantic continental shelf of the northwest Atlantic (Gulf of Maine to Cape Hatteras). Biol Bull 160:394–418CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gondim AI, Dias TLP, Christoffersen ML (2015) Hypersaline mangroves harbor a high density of Brazilian endangered sea stars (Echinaster spp.) Mar Biodivers 45:629–630.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s12526-014-0306-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Guerra-Castro EJ, Conde JE, Cruz-Motta JJ (2016) Scales of spatial variation in tropical benthic assemblages and their ecological relevance: epibionts on Caribbean mangrove roots as a model system. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 548:97–110.  https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11693 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Harrold C, Pearse JS (1980) Allocation of pyloric caecum reserves in FED and starved sea stars, Pisaster giganteus (Stimpson): somatic maintenance comes before reproduction. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 48:169–183.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0022-0981(80)90015-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lopes EM, Pérez-Portela R, Paiva PC, Ventura CRR (2016) The molecular phylogeny of the sea star Echinaster (Asteroidea: Echinasteridae) provides insights for genus taxonomy. Invertebr Biol 135:235–244.  https://doi.org/10.1111/ivb.12135 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Mariante FLF, Lemos GB, Eutrópio FJ, Castro RRL, Gomes LC (2010) Reproductive biology in the starfish Echinaster (Othilia) guyanensis (Echinodermata: Asteroidea) in southeastern Brazil. Zoologia (Curitiba) 27:897–901CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Nagelkerken I et al (2008) The habitat function of mangroves for terrestrial and marine fauna: a review. Aquat Bot 89:155–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Oksanen J et al. (2017) Vegan: community ecology package. R package version 2.4–2Google Scholar
  20. R Development Core Team (2017) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna http://www.R-project.org Google Scholar
  21. Russell MP (2013) Echinoderm responses to variation in salinity. Adv Mar Biol 66:171–212CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Sanford E, Menge BA (2007) Reproductive output and consistency of source populations in the sea star Pisaster ochraceus. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 349:1–12.  https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07166 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Scheibling RE, Lawrence JM (1982) Differences in reproductive strategies of morphs of the genus Echinaster (Echinodermata: Asteroidea) from the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Mar Biol 70:51–62.  https://doi.org/10.1007/bf00397296 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Schutte VGW, Byers JE (2017) Variation in simple trait of mangrove roots governs predator access to, and assemblage composition of, epibiotic sponges. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 573:15–23.  https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12160 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Smith-Gill SJ (1975) Cytophysiological basis of disruptive pigmentary patterns in the leopard frog Rana Pipiens. II. Wild type and mutant cell-specific patterns. J Morphol 146:35–54.  https://doi.org/10.1002/jmor.1051460103 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Villamor A, Becerro MA (2010) Matching spatial distributions of the sea star Echinaster sepositus and crustose coralline algae in shallow rocky Mediterranean communities. Mar Biol 157:2241–2251.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-010-1489-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Waddell B, Pawlik JR (2000) Defenses of Caribbean sponges against invertebrate predators. I. Assays with hermit crabs. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 195:125–132.  https://doi.org/10.3354/meps195125 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Warnau M, Jangoux M (1999) In vitro and in vivo investigations of the excretory function of the rectal caeca in the asteroid Asterias rubens (Echinodermata). Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol 123:263–267.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S1095-6433(99)00058-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Zar J (1996) Biostatistical analysis. Prentice-Hall, New JerseyGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wilber J. Bernay-Alfonzo
    • 1
  • Raymundo Hurtado-Carreño
    • 1
  • Edlin J. Guerra-Castro
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Ecología (ECOLAB), Escuela de Ciencias Aplicadas del MarUniversidad de Oriente, Núcleo de Nueva EspartaBoca del RíoVenezuela
  2. 2.CONACYT - Unidad Multidisciplinaria de Docencia e Investigación, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoSisalMexico

Personalised recommendations