The movement of the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus from a rocky habitat to patches of Posidonia oceanica was investigated with respect to the size of the sea urchins and their location from the edge of the patch. With this aim, a manipulative experiment was conducted (4 times) at a location where several P. oceanica patches were interspersed on rocky platforms. Each time, after an accurate removal of the sea urchins populating them, 15 of these patches were randomly assigned in sets of 3 to 5 different urchin addition treatments, using groups of 10 large or small P. lividus specimens (test diameter >50 and <30 mm, respectively) positioned at close and far distances (25 and 100 cm, respectively) from the edges of the patches as follows: large-close, large-far, small-close, small-far, and control patches where no urchins were added. The abundance of sea urchins inside the patches was counted after 24 h. Results highlighted significant variability because of the distance from the patches, whereas no significant effect was observed for sea urchin size. These results suggested that: P. lividus specimens close to P. oceanica patches might have a greater probability of reaching them, and that the chance to reach the patch does not depend on the size of sea urchins. In fact, a comparable ability to move towards the patches was evident for different-sized specimens, indicating that migration from one habitat to the other is possible even for small-sized individuals.
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Vol. 28 • No. 2