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Feeding radius, burying depth and siphon size of Macoma balthica and Scrobicularia plana
Zwarts, L.; Blomert, A.-M.; Spaak, P.; de Vries, B. (1994). Feeding radius, burying depth and siphon size of Macoma balthica and Scrobicularia plana. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 183(2): 193-212.
In: Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. Elsevier: New York. ISSN 0022-0981, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

    Macoma balthica (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]; Scrobicularia plana (da Costa, 1778) [WoRMS]; Marine
Author keywords
    Burying depth; Feeding radius; Siphon

Authors  Top 
  • Zwarts, L.
  • Blomert, A.-M.
  • Spaak, P.
  • de Vries, B.

    This paper investigates whether siphon weight limits the elongation of the siphon of deposit-feeding benthic bivalves under natural conditions. Were this to be so, it would imply that foraging and predator avoidance place conflicting demands on these animals, since an increase in the feeding radius on the surface would be associated with a decrease in the burying depth, and vice versa. The paper presents methods with which to measure siphon length and equations to transform siphon weight to siphon length in two benthic bivalves, Scrobicularia plana and Macoma balthica. Relatively heavy siphons are longer, but also thicker, than lightweight ones. We conclude that most individual bivalves stretch their siphons fully while feeding. However, bivalves with heavy siphons keep part of the siphon in reserve within the shell. Siphon cropping therefore results in an immediate reduction in siphon length, unless the siphon is heavy and a reserve is available. The feeding radius of M. balthica and S. plana is a linear function of shell size. S. plana use half of their siphon length to feed on the surface and the other half to bury themselves, but if the siphon weight is below average, the proportion extended over the surface decreases with siphon size. However, among the animals with a short siphon, those with a good body condition take no risks and live as deeply as possible. A comparison between species reveals that the weight of the extended inhalant siphon per cm amounts, on average, to 0.6% of the total body weight.

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