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Fecal pellets collection as a method for assessing egesta of the marine cave-dwelling mysid Hemimysis speluncola
Marta Carola, Rafael Coma, Tecla Riera, Mikel Zabala

Egesta of a cave-dwelling mysid (Hemimysis speluncola Ledoyer, 1963) was studied in a submarine cave of Medes Islands, NW Mediterranean by in situ fecal pellet collecting. Fecal pellet production and gut fullness of mysids during incubation experiments are used to estimate mysid egestion rates. Intrinsic factors related with the natural history of this species such as population structure, density of mysids, daily rhythms and pellet decomposition rates are tested for their influence on the egestion rate. The effects of methodological artifacts, such as the stress induced by both incubation and preservation procedures, are also studied. An average mysid egests about 2.5 pellets per day into the cave. The time of day is the main factor affecting egestion. The highest deposition rate is between 2 to 4 hours after sunrise when about 38 % of the total daily pellet production becomes egested. Fecal pellet morphology changes with mysid demographic classes: immature mysids produce slender and thick pellets, whereas mature mysids produce only thick pellets. Immature classes show higher percentages of full guts than mature ones. Mysid density in the incubators does not affect the results on gut fullness, but it causes a decrease in the number of pellets collected after incubation. Coprorhexia seems to be the only plausible process to explain this paradox. The incubation procedure does not increase deposition rate significantly. Time of incubation is critical because the half-life of fecal pellets is about 2.5 hours. Fixation with liquid nitrogen decreases gut fullness and also deposition rates. Higher values are obtained with 70 % ethanol and 5 % formalin solutions which show very similar results for both gut fullness and pellet deposition rates. Nevertheless, ethanol is not suitable as fixative because it enhances the opacity of the body. Several suggestions are given in order to optimize the reliability of further in situ experiments for evaluation of egesta of Hemimysis speluncola in submarine caves.

Keywords: Mysids, Hemimysis speluncola, egesta, fecal pellets, method, submarine caves.
Contents of this volume Sci. Mar. 57(1) : 51-63 Back PDF
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