Susceptibility of larval Crepidula fornicata to predation by suspension-feeding adults

Type Article
Date 2004-07
Language English
Author(s) Pechenik Jan, Blanchard Michel, Rotjan Randi
Affiliation(s) Tufts Univ, Dept Biol, Medford, MA 02155 USA.
Inst Francais Rech Exploitat Mer, Dept Ecol Cotiere, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
Source Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology (0022-0981) (Elsevier), 2004-07 , Vol. 306 , N. 1 , P. 75-94
DOI 10.1016/j.jembe.2004.01.004
WOS© Times Cited 22
Keyword(s) Larvae, Susceptibility, Predation
Abstract The slipper shell snail Crepidula fornicata forms dense assemblages along much of the European coast, where it co-occurs with oysters. We examined the susceptibility of slipper shell larvae to predation by suspension-feeders, including adults of their own species. In particular, we compared filtration rates on phytoplankton with those on larvae, and determined the extent to which consumption of larvae varied with adult size, larval size, and with the presence of alternative food (phytoplankton). We also examined the ability of competent larvae to metamorphose successfully in the presence of feeding adults. For each experiment, adults were held in plastic jars with seawater or phytoplankton suspension and allowed to graze on larvae (101 larvae per jar) for 4-6 h at room temperature (21-23degreesC); larvae were kept in circulation with gentle aeration. Adults of C. fornicata ingested substantial numbers of larvae over the complete range of sizes tested, about 450-850 mum shell length. Ingestion rates were reduced by 43-50% in the presence of phytoplankton, and were not correlated with adult shell length. The rates at which larvae were removed by adult slipper shells were generally lower than predicted from the rates at which the same adults ingested phytoplankton, suggesting either some ability of larvae to avoid capture or some difficulty of adults in consuming larvae entrained into their feeding currents. Slipper shell larvae were also readily consumed by adult oysters (Ostrea edulis and Crassostrea gigas), and indeed oysters consumed larvae at faster rates than predicted from their phytoplankton ingestion rates. Nevertheless, substantial numbers of competent larvae managed to metamorphose successfully during the test periods, either on the sides of the jars they were in or on the adults' shells, suggesting that recruitment probably continues in the field even when suspension-feeding adults are at high concentrations in the benthos.
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