NOVEL BAT STAR PATIRIA MINIATA HABITAT ASSOCIATIONS
Chelsea Burgess1, Michael Navarro2, Corey Garza2.
1Haskell Indian Nation University, Lawrence, KS, 2California State University, Monterey Bay, Seaside, CA.
Species habitat association occurs when individuals from a given species select for specific environments. Species habitat associations have been well studied in terrestrial habitats but hardly within marine ecosystems. This study examined the bat star, Patiria miniata, and its potential association with shallow subtidal sandy habitats as a model system. Little is known about how or if bat stars associate with specific marine habitats. This study will add to a growing body of literature on species habitat associations in marine systems. Video survey techniques via towcam were used to collect data for P. miniata across sandy habitats north and east of the Monterey Bay Harbor. These habitats were sub-categorized into bedform types by increments of 10 cm and depths up to 70 ft. Each subtidal habitat survey underwent post-processing analysis through photo frame-by-frame protocol in the laboratory. Our a priori hypothesis was that P. miniata would have higher densities on flat bedform type of 0 cm and in depths greater than 15 ft. However, preliminary results indicate that P. miniata rarely occurs at depths less than 15 ft on sand indicating that their distribution may not be based solely on bedform type. Rather, at these depths, P. miniata may be competitively excluded by the sand dollar, Dendraster excentrius.