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Data for: Tube feet regeneration and plasticity in the purple sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus)

Cite this dataset

Narvaez, Carla A (2020). Data for: Tube feet regeneration and plasticity in the purple sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) [Dataset]. Dryad.


Sea urchins are key members of hydrodynamically intense habitats, such as open coast intertidal and shallow reefs. Secure attachment to the substrata, by means of tube feet and spines, is essential for survival. Previous studies suggest that environmental variables (i.e. hydrodynamics, substrate) can influence the morphology and adhesive performance of tube feet. Catastrophic failure of tube feet occurs often due to strong hydrodynamic forces. The time and ability of amputated tube feet to return to pre-amputation adhesive performance, and the interaction with environmental factors are unknown. To assess the dynamics of adhesive performance and re- generation of tube feet, we 1) evaluated phenotypic plasticity of disc surface area of two urchin populations inhabiting sites with different lithologies (field - in-situ conditions) and, 2) assessed regeneration of their functionality (tube foot length, time of disc first appearance, disc surface area, and tenacity) after amputation (laboratory - ex-situ conditions). Results showed that in the field, tube feet are plastic in their phenotype: sea urchins from the two sites differed in their disc surface area. Plasticity was also observed in the laboratory, where urchins regenerate tube feet that are shorter in length and have smaller discs compared to pre-amputation measurements. Thus, sea urchin tube feet recovering from amputation events in the intertidal may differ in their initial morphology and in the recovery period after amputation. Moreover, tube feet that were never amputated also decreased their disc area, suggesting that plasticity occurs on tube feet of urchins maintained in laboratory conditions. In shallow temperate reef systems, urchins are ecosystem engineers that affect the abundance and distribution of many other organisms. The plastic nature of morphological and adhesive abilities of sea urchin tube feet influences their ability to survive and dominate wave-battered habitats.


National Science Foundation, Award: OCE-0623934