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Free Content Sediment Grain Size Preference by the Sand Dollar Mellita Tenuis Clark, 1940 (Echinodermata: Echinoidea): A Laboratory Study

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Four compartments containing different grain sizes (125–249, 250–499, 500–999, 1,000–1,990 μm) were presented simultaneously to individuals of Mellita tenuis Clark, 1940. The observed distribution was compared with an expected random distribution using a G-test. The 250–499 μm grain size class was chosen most frequently followed by the 125–249 μm size class, while the larger grain size classes were selected less than the expected random distribution. A no-choice test, in which all four compartments contained equivalent sediment, was run on the same individuals as a control and showed no difference between observed and expected distributions. Sand dollars handle grains during movement and feeding. Since individuals were able to move and bury in all four sediment grain size classes but preferred the smaller classes, we suggest that preference may be related more to the ability to handle grains during feeding than during movement. The relative abundance of different sediment grain sizes may playa role in fine scale habitat preference.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1995-05-01

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