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Interaction of nemertines and their prey on tidal flats
Thiel, M.; Reise, K. (1993). Interaction of nemertines and their prey on tidal flats. Neth. J. Sea Res. 31(2): 163-172
In: Netherlands Journal of Sea Research. Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ): Groningen; Den Burg. ISSN 0077-7579, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Thiel, M.
  • Reise, K., more

    Two common nemertines of the European Wadden Sea, Lineus viridis and Amphiporus lactifloreus, occur preferentially in clusters of mussels, spread over sedimentary flats in the upper intertidal near the island of Sylt. The heteronemertine L. viridis preys mainly on the polychaete Nereis diversicolor. The hoplonemertine A. lactifloreus feeds almost exclusively on the amphipod Gammarus locusta. Abundance of both predators and their respective prey in the field showed inverse relationships. Experimentally increased numbers of L. viridis in clusters of mussels caused a gradual decrease of nereid abundance in the sediment underneath over a period of 1 month, suggesting that losses of individuals were caused by prey capture. Experimentally increased numbers of A. lactifloreus were followed by an escape response of gammarids from clusters of mussels within 2 d. In aquaria, both prey species exhibited prolonged swimming activity when their respective predators lurked at the bottom. We conclude that escape behaviour in N. diversicolor may be only effective during its migrant phases, while G. locusta is permanently on the alert to avoid encounters with its predator. This refuging behaviour in response to endobenthic predators has strong implications on prey distribution, while the actual consumption of prey may be relatively modest. Enclosure experiments in the field and in aquaria lead to overestimates of prey capture when refuging behaviour is not accounted for.

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