Anti‑predatory chemical defences in Antarctic benthic fauna
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Antarctic benthic communities are largely structured by predation, which leads to the development of mechanisms of repellence. Among those mechanisms, chemical defences are quite extensive, yet poorly understood. To increase knowledge about the role of chemical defences in the Southern Ocean ecosystems, we assessed the incidence of feeding repellents in sessile and vagile invertebrates from nine phyla: Porifera, Cnidaria, Nemertea, Annelida, Mollusca, Bryozoa, Echinodermata, Hemichordata, and Tunicata (Ascidiacea). Samples were collected at depths of 120–789 m in the eastern Weddell Sea and Bouvet Island, and at depths ranging 0–100 m in the South Shetland Islands. When possible, specimens were dissected to study anatomical allocation of repellents. The common, eurybathic sea star Odontaster validus was chosen to perform feeding repellence bioassays, using diethyl ether (lipophilic) and butanol (hydrophilic) extracts from these samples. Among the 75 species tested, 52 % were studied for ...
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