Defenses
 
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Invertebrates
hot buttons for invertebrate defenses part of BCCR hot button for behavioral defenses part of invertebrate defenses in BCCR hot button for toxic chemicals part of invertebrate defenses in BCCR hot button for structure part of invertebrate defenses in BCCR
The topic considered here reating to defenses of invertebrates deals with toxic chemicals. Other invertebrate defenses are accessible via the icons.
 
 

Invertebrate defenses: toxic chemicals

Chemical defenses of invertebrates fall into a category of mucus, considered here, and 3 other categories accessible via the icons.

Mucus is produced by all soft-bodied reef invertebrates and has a variety of functions including feeding, locomotion, and protection from stressful physical and chemical conditions, as well as from predators. It is not known whether mucus produced in defense of predators actually has any toxic properties but, as it seems likely, it is included here as a topic.

hot buttons for chemical-defenses part of BCCR
 
 

Invertebrate defenses: toxic chemicals: mucus

 
 
seahorse dive leader for Biology of Caribbean Coral Reefs website photograph of a mound oral Montastrea taken from a video

"Most invertebrates secrete mucus in times of stress, and corals are no exception. Like this one. Oh, no, I'm wrong! Do you know what this is? It's a sessile worm snail, and its mucousy feeding strand has landed on the coral, Hmmm! More for the coral to clean up, I guess!." - Turks & Caicos 2006

NOTE member of Family Vermetidae

 

 
 

photograph of finger coral Porites sp. with half the polyps extendedgraph showing production of mucous sheets in relation to phase of moon
At least one Caribbean species of finger coral produces mucous sheets on a lunar cycle, with maximum production at night during full-moon periods (see graph). In some Porites species, mucous sheets form in response to lower saiinities and sedimentation, but this is apparently not universal within the genus. Coffroth 1985 Proc 5th Intern Coral Reef Sympos 4: 165.

NOTE these sheets are produced simultaneously by most or all polyps. In addition to protection that may be provided under conditions of stress, they are also used as a means to capture and feed on organic particles: CORALS: A CASE STUDY: MUCUS-NET FEEDING

 
 
  photograph of blue chromis
Let's hear what the coral has to say about it:
 
cartoon 1 in a series of 6 showing a blue chromis enquiring about mucus production with a finger coral cartoon 2 in a series of 6 showing a blue chromis enquiring about mucus production with a finger coral
cartoon 3 in a series of 6 showing a blue chromis enquiring about mucus production with a finger coral cartoon 4 in a series of 6 showing a blue chromis enquiring about mucus production with a finger coral
cartoon 5 in a series of 6 showing a blue chromis enquiring about mucus production with a finger coral cartoon 6 in a series of 6 showing a blue chromis enquiring about mucus production with a finger coral
 
 

photograph of cowrie shell Cypraea from the Caribbeanphotograph of fireworm and coral
All soft-bodied reef invertebrates produce mucus in defense (toxic properties may be involved), or for protection against abrasion during locomotion. Cowrie photo courtesy John Lewis, McGill University, Montreal.

Snails secrete a protective mucous
trail on which they crawl 2X


Defensive mucus is being produced by one or other
of these protagonists, the coral Montastrea sp. or
the bearded fireworm Hermodice carunculata 3X

 
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