All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Stephen A Watts

Advisory Committee Members

Louis R D'Abramo

D Allen Davis

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Science (MS) College of Arts and Sciences


Long-term economic and environmental sustainability of aquaculture will be dependent on utilization of novel nutrient sources and remediation of effluent streams. Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) is a method intended to maximize productivity and minimize waste by strategically reusing effluent from a primary, fed species in the production of one or more secondary, extractive species. Such relationships are based on the trophic role of the fed and extractive species in question. Sea urchin egesta are thought to play a role in nutrient cycling in natural habitats by providing an energy source for many coprophagous deposit feeders, suspension feeders, and microbes. The shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei is a generalist scavenger and has been observed previously to readily ingest the egesta produced by cultured specimens of the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus. This work investigates the potential value of egesta from the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus as a sole nutrient source or supplement for the shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei. Chapter 1 compares several different feeds for shrimp held individually. Urchin feed allowed for weight gain in shrimp, but those shrimp gained significantly less weight than those proffered commercial shrimp feed. When urchin egesta were processed and proffered to shrimp as wet or dry rations, shrimp gained relatively little weight. However, when shrimp were held in sequential co-culture with sea urchins, they had the highest weight gain of any other treatment. With proper handling, some nutritional benefit can be conferred to shrimp via the urchin egesta. Chapter 2 explores sea urchin egesta as an exclusive diet at varying culture densities, as well as urchin egesta proffered with varying commercial shrimp feed rations. Shrimp proffered urchin egesta exclusively were not significantly different in weight gain or body composition from shrimp proffered a full ration of shrimp feed, despite lower estimated nutrient density of urchin egesta. When shrimp feed was proffered in addition to urchin egesta, shrimp weight gain was increased beyond what was achieved with shrimp feed alone. Sea urchin egesta appears to provide some growth enhancement factor that confers highly efficient nutrient utilization or protein retention, allowing shrimp to realize increased genetic potential for weight gain.



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