Diadema antillarum Was Not a Keystone Predator in Cryptic Reef Environments

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Science  06 Feb 1987:
Vol. 235, Issue 4789, pp. 687-689
DOI: 10.1126/science.235.4789.687


The ecological impact of the disappearance of a major predator depends on the responsiveness of the prey. Mass mortality of the most abundant grazer in Caribbean cryptic reef environments, the sea urchin Diadema antilarum, selectively decreased rates of mortality of encrusting organisms by half, yet community composition hardly changed because alternative species failed to become established.