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Free Content Ecological function of chemical deterrents in a tropical polychaete, Eupolymnia crassicornis (Annelida, Terebellidae), in Belize

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The chemical ecology and trophic interactions of a tropical polychaete, Eupolymnia crassicornis (Annelida, Terebellidae), were investigated to determine presence and function of chemical deterrents. Field assays indicated that bluehead wrasses, Thalassoma bifasciatum, and green clinging crabs, Mithrax sculptus, rejected worm tentacles and feeding pellets treated with extracts from the tentacles. Body parts of the worms were not deterrent in the same assays. This was the first study to use field assays to demonstrate function of chemical defenses in polychaetes, and the first to document presence of chemical defenses in Eupolymnia. The study supports basic paradigms concerning presence of chemical defenses within taxonomic groups, biogeographic variability in chemical defenses, and allocation of chemical defenses to vulnerable portions of organisms.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2002

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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