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Functional effects of the hadal sea cucumber Elpidia atakama (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea, Elasipodida) reflect small-scale patterns of resource availability
- Jamieson, A. J., Gebruk, A., Fujii, T., Solan, M.
- Marine biology 2011 v.158 no.12 pp. 2695-2703
- Holothuroidea, cameras, foods, locomotion, sediments, Pacific Ocean
- Holothuroidea represent the dominant benthic megafauna in hadal trenches (~6,000–11,000 m), but little is known about their behaviour and functional role at such depths. Using a time-lapse camera at 8,074 m in the Peru–Chile Trench (SE Pacific Ocean), we provide the first in situ observations of locomotory activity for the elasipodid holothurian Elpidia atakama Belyaev in Shirshov Inst Oceanol 92:326–367, (1971). Time-lapse sequences reveal ‘run and mill’ behaviour whereby bouts of feeding activity are interspersed by periods of locomotion. Over the total observation period (20 h 25 min), we observed a mean (±SD) locomotion speed of 7.0 ± 5.7 BL h−1, but this increased to 10.9 ± 7.2 BL h−1 during active relocation and reduced to 4.8 ± 2.9 BL h−1 during feeding. These observations show E. atakama translocates and processes sediment at rates comparable to shallower species despite extreme hydrostatic pressure and remoteness from surface-derived food.