Characterization of the putatively introduced red alga Acrochaetium secundatum (Acrochaetiales, Rhodophyta) growing epizoically on the pelage of southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis)

Marine Mammal Science
By: , and 

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Abstract

Ecological associations between epibionts (organisms that live on the surface of another living organism) and vertebrates have been documented in both marine and terrestrial environments, and may be opportunistic, commensal, or symbiotic (Lewin et al. 1981, Holmes 1985, Allen et al. 1993, Bledsoe et al. 2006, Pfaller et al. 2008, Suutari et al. 2010). Although epibiont proliferation is frequently reported on slow-moving, sparsely haired organisms such as manatees and sloths, reports from densely furred, highly mobile mammals are much less common. There are reports of epizoic algae for several species of pinnipeds (Kenyon and Rice 1959, Scheffer 1962, Baldridge 1977, Allen et al. 1993), which rely to varying degrees on both pelage and blubber for thermoregulation, but the phenomenon has not been widely described. Scheffer (1962) noted that red algae was fairly common on the pelage of northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus), pinnipeds for which fur likely makes a comparatively high contribution to thermoregulation (Donohue et al. 2000). For species with pelage that plays a critical role of thermal insulation, it seems implausible that an epibiont would persist on healthy individuals that devote significant energy resources toward grooming and actively maintaining their coat. Biological characteristics of epibiont settlement and attachment, and physiological requirements of epizoic species play key roles in their successful colonization and potential host impacts. To investigate this relationship, we explore a novel discovery of an epizoic alga from southern sea otters, including describing algal development on sea otter hair and molecular identification of the algae.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Characterization of the putatively introduced red alga Acrochaetium secundatum (Acrochaetiales, Rhodophyta) growing epizoically on the pelage of southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis)
Series title Marine Mammal Science
DOI 10.1111/mms.12275
Volume 32
Issue 2
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Description 12 p.
First page 753
Last page 764
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N