The role of urchins in mediating transformation and transport of kelp detritus (Masters 2018)
Sea urchins are herbivores that consume a lot of algae. When they feed on algae, large pieces are broken down into much smaller fragments. A large proportion of the consumed algal material pass the intestine and are delivered as faeces, which contains relatively ‘fresh’ algal material that have not been digested. If sea urchins transform large particulate organic matter (CPOM) to smaller particulate organic matter (FPOM), they facilitate transport and stimulate the decomposition of the algae and release of nutrients.
My project is primarily focused on understanding how the transformation of algal detritus from CPOM to FPOM affects decomposition rates. My study also focusses on the mechanism of the “coating” of urchin faeces by the microorganism and comparing the decomposition rate between the faeces and large fragments of algal material.
Supervisors: Thomas Wernberg, Jane Prince, Morten Pedersen (RUC), Karen Filbee-Dexter (NIVA).