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Plasticity of biometrical and mechanical properties of Echinocardium cordatum spines according to environment
Moureaux, C.; Dubois, P. (2012). Plasticity of biometrical and mechanical properties of Echinocardium cordatum spines according to environment. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 159(3): 471-479. https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00227-011-1824-2
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162; e-ISSN 1432-1793, meer
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  • Moureaux, C.
  • Dubois, P.

Abstract
    We investigated the plasticity of spines of the burrowing heart urchin Echinocardium cordatum inhabiting sandy beaches. This urchin has very specialized spines which play specific roles in feeding and locomotion. Biometrical and mechanical properties of the spine skeleton of individuals from a wave-exposed intertidal site and a protected subtidal site (Brittany, France) were compared and related to sediment grain size, food supply and urchin small-scale distribution and burrowing depth. The intertidal site was characterized by coarser sand; the urchins were more scattered and more deeply buried than in the subtidal site. Intertidal urchins were bigger than subtidal urchins but showed similar resource allocation. Spines of intertidal urchins were longer than those of subtidal urchins, their architecture was reinforced and they presented a higher fracture force and stiffness. These spine differences would be essentially due to passive plasticity, but could also be adaptative at a certain extent.

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