We measured the percent cover of epibionts on the legs versus the trunk of the eight control individuals from the oviger restriction experiment.
We tested mechanisms of control of epibionts by pycnogonids in three ways: disabling their ovigers to prevent grooming, extracting wax layers from the cuticle, and measuring the wettability of the cuticle; however, none of these experiments affected epibiont coverage.
These appendages are called ovigers, and they are also used by some species to carry egg masses (Arnaud and Bamber, 1987; Bamber, 2007).
chelata (n = 27 of 40 total); patterns of epibiont coverage and control, use of ovigers, and cuticular structure appeared similar between the two species.
use their ovigers to control epibionts, we haphazardly selected 16 animals and separated them into two groups, restricted ovigers and controls (unrestricted ovigers).
In the experimental group, ovigers were restricted by applying Loctite marine epoxy (Henkel Corp., Dusseldorf, Germany) to their distal ends, thereby gluing them together.
However, the individuals likely had, at most, sparsely distributed individual bacteria (not biofilms), as revealed by images (using scanning electron microscopy, SEM) of areas of clean cuticle from individuals in the group with restricted ovigers (images not shown).
To assess the role of ovigers in epibiont control, a Wilcoxon signed-rank test was conducted; this test was chosen because the data were not normal and had an upper bound of 100%.
Change in percent epibiont cover did not vary significantly with experimental (restricted ovigers) and control (unrestricted ovigers) pycnogonids (Z = 37, d.f.