Thursday, September 1, 2011

Paper published!: Diet and Feeding in the sea star Astropecten indicus

Finally part of my final year honours research project has been published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology! :-)

I studied on the behaviour and ecology of the Plain sand stars (Astropecten indicus) which is one of the most common sea star species in Singapore.

Part of my research requires field work and I am ever so grateful for the group of friends that tirelessly volunteered to help me survey on the sand stars. This photo shows a gang of the garang warriors getting ready to march towards the shore to conduct a transect survey.

I particularly love this sunset photo with another group of lovely and energetic friends. Though I did not mention in my blog post previously what they were doing, actually they were sieving among the soft ground for tiny snails and clams which are potential food for the sea stars. Definitely not an easy job, so kudos to them!

As super low spring tides are hard to come by and do appear at unearthly hours, we have to start our "mission" as early as 3am or 4am! And these are the "crazy" people whom have sacrificed their sleep to help me survey the sand stars of Changi shore. Haha.

The weather does play a part in our surveying of the sea stars and sometimes we have to quickly get the work done before the rain pour. This is a photo taken when we were surveying at Pasir Ris.

And yes, a lot of recording and measurements had to be made on site and can be quite stressful.

If you want to read more about our adventures, here are some of the links to our research trips:

Another part of my research involves indoor experimental work at Tropical Marine Science Institute, St John's Island. Thanks to their facilities, I could carry out experiments with multiple tanks using their indoor aquarium system. And I also made many friends from there as well! :) Thanks for assisting me in my project through various ways.

And of course, my NUS home lab- the Marine Bio lab! With my supervisor Dr Peter Todd! Thank you so much for your guidance and patience with me.  And also the people in this lab have been of great help and company too. :)

From the way I thank so many people in this post, I sounded as if this paper is a big or great deal. Actually it is just that I truly appreciate all the help that I've gathered when I was doing this project. Thanks much all!

Diet and Feeding in the sea star Astropecten indicus

ABSTRACT. – This study investigates the feeding ecology of Astropecten indicus, one of the most common sea stars in Singapore’s waters. Examination of the regurgitated stomach contents of 69 specimens collected from four sites revealed that A. indicus is a generalist molluscan feeder; but the Asian date mussel, Musculista senhousia, was the dominant prey species (42.68%). Astropecten indicus preferred M. senhousia over the button snail, Umbonium vestiarium, when given a choice under laboratory conditions. This pattern was significant, and held for experiments regardless of whether prey were shelled or unshelled. Astropecten indicus also consumed more M. senhousia than U. vestiarium when fed these prey ad libitum. This is the first study of its kind on A. indicus and thus contributes to the small pool of knowledge regarding the ecology of this species.

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