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The function of mucous secretions in the cushion star pteraster tesselatus

, : The function of mucous secretions in the cushion star pteraster tesselatus. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology & Ecology 40(3): 259-266

In all previous studies involving the behavior of the cushion star P. tesselatus Ives, the possibility that this asteroid's copious secretions of mucus are defensive in nature was suggested, but never studied to any degree. This showed that discharge of mucus from Pteraster was triggered not only by physical stimulation, but also from contact with the asteroid-consuming sea stars Solaster dawsoni Verrill and Pycnopodia helianthoides (Brandt). Mucus repelled these 2 asteroids so effectively that it provided P. tesselatus with protection from predation for essentially 100% of the time. Pteraster specimens were easily and harmlessly rendered defenseless by removing their mucous-cell-containing supradorsal membranes by dissection. Without the mucous secretions available for discharge, P. tesselatus was easily preyed upon by both S. dawsoni and P. helianthoides.

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