Alarm signal response in the brittle star Amphiura filiformis

R. Rosenberg, Erik Selander

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Flat fishes, such as the dab Limanda limanda, commonly prey on arms of Amphiura filiformis. We demonstrate in flume experiments that A. filiformis showed a more or less simultaneous response to an upstream predation by dab on conspecifics: the arms, which are stretched up into the water column when filter feeding, responded by bending down to the sediment surface, and some arms submerged, at least partly, into the sediment. We interpret this as an alarm response. A similar, but significantly weaker response in A. filiformis was also recorded when dab ate Amphiura chiajei. Homogenates of the two Amphiura species and arm pinching - to simulate partial predation - elicited a similar response in A. filiformis, the arms bent to the sediment surface. In contrast, however, the behavioural response of the arms to the homogenates was to protrude further out of the sediment and sweep the surface vigorously. We interpret this as a feeding behaviour. Response to arm pinching was less clear. The ecological consequences and origin of alarm signal response in A. filiformis are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMarine Biology
Pages (from-to)43-48
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


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