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OBSERVATIONS AND EXPERIMENTS ON THE NATURAL HISTORY AND BEHAVIOR OF THE COMMENSAL ISOPOD COLIDOTEA ROSTRATA (BENEDICT, 1898) (ISOPODA: IDOTEIDAE)

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image of Journal of Crustacean Biology

ABSTRACT The idoteid isopod Colidotea rostrata is the only known commensal within the suborder Valvifera. This isopod lives on and mimics the color of two eastern Pacific sea urchins, Strongylocentrotuspurpuratus and S. franciscanus, and has never been reported as free-living. Field and laboratory observations, and experiments were conducted to examine the natural history and behavior of C. rostrata in southern California. While C. rostrata have no apparent effect on their urchin hosts, the urchins provide the isopods with food (trapped algae) and shelter from predators. Isopods cling tenaciously to urchin spines and cannot swim if dislodged. However, isopods do move between urchin hosts by crawling from the spines of one urchin directly to the spines of adjacent urchins. Laboratory experiments showed that C. rostrata is not capable of chemically mediated host location, and that isopods detached from natural urchin hosts seek alternate refuges and do not feed. Experiments also revealed that isopods shift their position on urchins in response to diurnal cues and tidal height. Increasing light and decreasing water levels cause isopods to move from the exposed aboral urchin surfaces towards the more protected oral surfaces. This behavior appears advantageous in that it minimizes the exposure of isopods to desiccation stress and to predators.

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/content/journals/10.1163/193724088x00387
1988-01-01
2016-12-07

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