Comparative metabolic ecology of tropical herbivorous echinoids on a coral reef

TitleComparative metabolic ecology of tropical herbivorous echinoids on a coral reef
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsLewis L.S, Smith JE, Eynaud Y.
JournalPlos One
Date Published2018/01
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number1932-6203
Accession NumberWOS:000422749500014
Keywordsbody-size; brown algal phlorotannins; community dynamics; feeding; Marine invertebrate; nutrient enrichment; ocean acidification; oxygen-consumption; Preferences; Science & Technology - Other Topics; sea-urchins; tripneustes-gratilla

Background The metabolic rate of consumers is a key driver of ecosystem dynamics. On coral reefs, herbivorous echinoids consume fleshy algae, facilitating the growth of reef-building calcified organisms; however, little is known about differences among species in their metabolic and functional ecology. Here, we used log-linear (log-log) regression models to examine the allometric scaling of mass and routine metabolic rate for five common herbivorous echinoids on a Hawaiian coral reef: Echinothrix calamaris, E. diadema, Echinometra matthaei, Hetero-centrotus mammillatus, and Tripneustes gratilla. Scaling relationships were then contrasted with empirical observations of echinoid ecology and general metabolic theory to broaden our understanding of diversity in the metabolic and functional ecology of tropical herbivorous echinoids. Results Test diameter and species explained 98% of the variation in mass, and mass and species explained 92.4% and 87.5% of the variation in individual (I) and mass-specific (B) metabolic rates, respectively. Scaling exponents did not differ for mass or metabolism; however, normalizing constants differed significantly among species. Mass varied as the cube of test diameter (b = 2.9), with HM exhibiting a significantly higher normalizing constant than other species, likely due to its heavily-calcified spines and skeleton. Individual metabolic rate varied approximately as the 2/5 power of mass (gamma = 0.44); significantly smaller than the 3/4 universal scaling coefficient, but inclusive of 2/3 scaling. E. calamaris and H. mammillatus exhibited the lowest normalizing constants, corresponding with their slow-moving, cryptic, rock-boring life-history. In contrast, E. calamaris, E. diadema, and T. gratilla, exhibited higher metabolic rates, likely reflecting their higher levels of activity and ability to freely browse for preferred algae due to chemical anti-predator defenses. Thus, differences in metabolic scaling appeared to correspond with differences in phylogeny, behavior, and ecological function. Such comparative metabolic assessments are central to informing theory, ecological models, and the effective management of ecosystems.

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