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