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Free Content Seasonal Variation in the Food Composition of Holothuria theeli (Holothuroidea: Aspidochirotida) with Observations on Density and Distribution Patterns at the Central Coast of Ecuador

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The seasonal variability of the ingested matter found in the digestive tract of the burrowing holothurian Holothuria theeli (Aspidochirotida) was studied on a shallow tidal reef flat at the Puntilla Santa Elena, Ecuador in 1994. H. theeli attained its maximum density at lowest tidal level (0 m) with 3.05 ind m-2 and was concentrated in shallow tide pools. Holothuria theeli fed on invertebrates and microscopic algae. 65% of the gut contents consisted of eight zoobenthic groups, where the most dominant species were meiobenthic crustaceans (46.5%, of which 35.5% were harpacticoid copepods), and microphytobenthos (35%, of which 91% were diatoms). May was the transition period (during water temperature changes) in which the population was dormant after spawning. The seasonal variation in the quantity and type of ingested matter may be related to several related factors, such as: (1) availability of food resources, (2) high food consumption rate in the dry season for energy storage to offset the lean rainy season, and (3) high energetic needs for reproductive activities. Holothuria theeli is a non-selective generalist species, which probably plays an important role in determining benthic community structure in the rocky intertidal at the central coast off Ecuador.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 November 2003

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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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