Theses and Dissertations

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Defense Date

6-2004

Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Department

Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

Charles G. Messing

Second Advisor

James D. Thomas

Third Advisor

Bernardo Vargas-Angel

Abstract

The amphinomid polychaete, Hermodice carunculata, was found on a variety of natural and artificial substrates off Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In Acropora cervicornis assemblages worms were observed in mean densities of 0.07-0. 13 ind m-2 and consumed 2-3% of available A. cervicornis tissue inside transect areas during surveys (~6-month periods). In nonacroporid areas, worms fed opportunistically on a variety of prey such as the zoanthid, Palythoa caribaeorum, the hydrocoral, Millepora alcicornis, the octocorals, Briareum asbestinum and Iciligorgia schrammi, and the sponge, Holopsamma helwigi. Previous research claims that H. carunculata has a clearly defined diurnal feeding cycle. In this study, worms were observed grazing on A. cervicornis during the day and at night from 2200 h to 2400 h. It is possible that factors such as wave action, water depth, prey abundance and predator densities influence the feeding patterns of H. carunculata in the near-shore habitats studied. Laboratory trials were conducted in order to compare feeding preference, feeding rates, and behavior of H. carunculata to field observations. Worms consumed 3-14 branch tips of A. cervicornis weekly relative to body size; a strong correlation was found between worm weight and scar size (r = 0.76, pA. cervicornis populations Caribbean-wide. Laboratory feeding preferences of worms removed from non-acroporid areas ranked as follows: Palythoa spp.> Eunicea calyculata> A. cervicornis. In the field, H. carunculata apparently fed on the most abundant available prey species.

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