Energetic composition, biomass, and chemical defense in the common antarctic nemertean Parborlasia corrugatus McIntosh

Academic Article


  • Parborlasia corrugatus McIntosh is a large, abundant, epibenthic antarctic nemertean which represents a considerable source of nutrition for predators. The energetic composition of adult body tissues (kJ·g-1 dry wt) is comprised primarily of energy derived from protein (11.4 kJ NaOH-insoluble, 6 kJ NaOH-soluble). Energy units associated with lipid (4.3 kJ) and carbohydrate (0.2 kJ) are much lower. Based on calculations of the energetic composition of whole body tissues, and a density of 0.3 ind·m-2, mean population energetic density is estimated to be 65 kJ·m-2. These values are often significantly higher as P. corrugatus aggregates when feeding. Despite their high abundance, nemerteans are not preyed upon and appear to be chemically defended. Sperm of the antarctic sea urchin Sterechinus neumeyeri (Meissner) were killed when exposed to a 3% aqueous extract of whole nemertean body tissues. In laboratory feeding experiments, two common species of antarctic fish showed significant rejection of nemerteans. Its toxic and feeding-deterrent characteristics are probably the result of the epithelial production of copious acidic mucus (pH = 3.5), although other toxic or noxious metabolites may be present. These results indicate that P. corrugatus, an important scavenger in antarctic benthic systems, is abundant, high in nutrients and energy content, and could be judged on this basis as a high-quality prey item. Nonetheless, due to its chemical defense, potential predators may avoid ingestion of this species. © 1991 Elsevier Science Publishers B.V. All rights reserved.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 232101
  • Author List

  • Heine JN; McClintock JB; Slattery M; Weston J
  • Start Page

  • 15
  • End Page

  • 25
  • Volume

  • 153
  • Issue

  • 1