[Coral-List] What eats Diadema?

Bill Allison allison.billiam at gmail.com
Sun Jan 10 11:49:04 EST 2010

Add the sea star Culcita to the list of possible Indo-Pacific suspects.
Some asteroids are known to eat urchins (Dayton et al., 1977; Rosenthal &
Chess, 1972; Schroeter et al., 1983) and I have witnessed Culcita eating
large numbers of Echinometra (Tonga)and Echinostrephus (Maldives - where it
could be collateral damage). It would not surprise me if they ate smaller
Diadema but I have not seen it in Maldives where I have made most of my
observations and Diadema are generally low density and adult thanks to a
diversity of predators (large Balistids especially).


Dayton, P. K., R. J. Rosenthal, et al. (1977). "Population structure and
foraging biology of the predaceous Chilean asteroid Meyenaster gelatinosus
and the escape biology of its prey." Marine Biology 39: 361-370.

Rosenthal, R. J. and J. R. Chess (1972). "A predator-prey relationship
between the leather star, Dermasterieas imbricata, and the purple urchin,
Strongylocentrotus purpuratus." Fish. Bull. U.S. 70: 205-216.

Schroeter, S. C., J. Dixon, et al. (1983). "Effects of the Starfish Patiria
miniata on the Distribution of the Sea Urchin Lytechinus anamesus in a
Southern Californian Kelp Forest." Oecologia 56(2/3): 141-147.

On Sat, Jan 9, 2010 at 8:25 AM, John Bruno <jbruno at unc.edu> wrote:

> There was an interesting email thread about Diadema predators that went
> around among a group of 20 or so reef ecologists during the holidays.  I
> just posted some of the highlights from the discussion and also some
> information on what eats Diadema from the classic Randall et al (1964) study
> of the biology of Diadema at ClimateShifts:
> http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=4188
> (It is sad how many of these discussions take place online, but off of the
> coral list and are thus not archived and the collective knowledge in them is
> not widely disseminated)
> Predators of Diadema appear to include: snapper, jacks, porcupinefishes,
> trunkfishes, grunts including black margate, porgies, triggerfishes,
> pufferfish, large wrasses, parrotfish, octopuses, lobsters, large gastropods
> and even small crabs (which eat juvenile Diadema).
> Does anyone have further information or observation on Diadema predators
> that they'd be willing to share with the coral list or as a comment on
> Climate Shifts?
> jb
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