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In the literature, 69 references altogether have reported 76 predators on holothurians. In terms of the number of predatory species, the most important predators are fishes (26 species), seastars (19 species), and crustaceans (17 species). Seastars are the predators most often cited as regularly ingesting large quantities of holothurians. Toxicity seems to be an effective defense against a generalized predator but, against a specialist on holothurians, escape by swimming movements or shedding of a piece of body wall are the only behaviors that occasionally end with a successful escape. Escape behaviors may be a factor in providing the apparent size refuge from predators. Impacts of predators on holothurian populations have rarely been reported or evaluated, and predation on the earliest life stage is unknown.
Invertebrate Biology © 1997 American Microscopical Society