Effects of handling and short-term captivity: a multi-behaviour approach using red sea urchins, Mesocentrotus franciscanus

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Aneesh P. H. Bose, Daniel Zayonc, Nikolaos Avrantinis, Natasha Ficzycz, Jonathan Fischer-Rush, Fiona T. Francis, Siobhan Gray, Faye Manning, Haley Robb, Coralee Schmidt, Christine Spice, Aari Umedaly, Jeff Warden, Isabelle M. Cote
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Understanding the effects of captivity-induced stress on wild-caught animals after their release back into the wild is critical for the long-term success of relocation and reintroduction programs. To date, most of the research on captivity stress has focused on vertebrates, with far less attention paid to invertebrates. Here, we examine the effect of short-term captivity (i.e., up to four days) on self-righting, aggregation, and predator-escape behaviours in wild-caught red sea urchins, Mesocentrotus franciscanus, after their release back into the wild. Aggregation behaviour, which has been linked to feeding in sea urchins, was not affected by handling or captivity. In contrast, the sea urchins that had been handled and released immediately, as well as those that were handled and held captive, took longer to right themselves and were poorer at fleeing from predators than wild, unhandled sea urchins. These results indicate that handling rather than captivity impaired these behaviours in the short term. The duration of captivity did not influence the sea urchin behaviours examined. Longer-term monitoring is needed to establish what the fitness consequences of these short-term behavioural changes might be. Our study nevertheless highlights the importance of considering a suite of responses when examining the effects of capture and captivity. Our findings, which are based on a locally abundant species, can inform translocation efforts aimed at bolstering populations of ecologically similar but depleted invertebrate species to retain or restore important ecosystem functions.


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