Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment From 2012 to 2015
On temperate rocky reefs worldwide, important kelp bed habitats are collapsed when sea urchin grazing exceeds the growth and recruitment of kelps. Increased grazing rates can be caused by either an increase in local sea urchin abundance, or alternatively when sea urchins change behaviour from passive feeding on drift algae to active overgrazing. The underlying mechanisms triggering the switch from a passive to an active feeding mode for sea urchins are not yet fully understood and are thus the key focus of this study. This research is utilising time-lapse photography to explore the dynamics of sea urchin foraging across changing reef conditions.
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