Molis and Wessels (2008) studied the effect of Desmarestia viridis on the behavior and distribution of green sea urchins. The sulphuric acid produced by D. viridis altered the pH of the wate,r making the urchin stop and move in the opposite direction. This acid-mediated escape response in the sea urchin suggests kelp receive chemical protection by neighboring D. viridis. Additionally, D. viridis thalli provide a mechanical (physical) barrier to urchin grazing.
Reference: Molis M, Wessels H. 2008. Do Sulphuric acid and the brown alga Desmarestia viridis support community structure in Artic kelp patches by alterning grazing impact, distribution patterns and behavior of the sea urchin? Polar Bio (2009) 32: 71-82.
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ZooBot Spring Quarter 2009
Friday Harbor Laboratories
University of Washington