Functional effects of the hadal sea cucumber Elpidia atakama (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea, Elasipodida) reflect small-scale patterns of resource availability

Alan Jamieson, Andrey Gebruk, Toyonobu Fujii, Martin Solan

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Holothuroidea represent the dominant benthic megafauna in hadal trenches (~6,000–11,000 m), but little is known about their behaviour and functional role at such depths. Using a time-lapse camera at 8,074 m in the Peru–Chile Trench (SE Pacific Ocean), we provide the first in situ observations of locomotory activity for the elasipodid holothurian Elpidia atakama Belyaev in Shirshov Inst Oceanol 92:326–367, (1971). Time-lapse sequences reveal ‘run and mill’ behaviour whereby bouts of feeding activity are interspersed by periods of locomotion. Over the total observation period (20 h 25 min), we observed a mean (±SD) locomotion speed of 7.0 ± 5.7 BL h-1, but this increased to 10.9 ± 7.2 BL h-1 during active relocation and reduced to 4.8 ± 2.9 BL h-1 during feeding. These observations show E. atakama translocates and processes sediment at rates comparable to shallower species despite extreme hydrostatic pressure and remoteness from surface-derived food.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2695-2703
Number of pages9
JournalMarine Biology
Issue number12
Early online date7 Aug 2011
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


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