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The effect of immersion time on burying depth of the bivalve Macoma balthica (Tellinidae)
de Goeij, P.; Honkoop, P.J.C. (2002). The effect of immersion time on burying depth of the bivalve Macoma balthica (Tellinidae). J. Sea Res. 47(2): 109-119
In: Journal of Sea Research. Elsevier/Netherlands Institute for Sea Research: Amsterdam; Den Burg. ISSN 1385-1101, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Bivalves; Body condition; Body conditions; Burying; Depth; Marine molluscs; Macoma balthica (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]; Macoma balthica (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]; Tellinidae Blainville, 1814 [WoRMS]; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • de Goeij, P.
  • Honkoop, P.J.C.

Abstract
    As a characteristic buried tellinid bivalve, Macoma balthica has a long inhalent siphon that enables it to feed in two different ways: deposit and suspension feeding. To deposit feed efficiently on benthic microalgae, Macoma has to live close to the sediment surface, where it can graze an extensive surface area, but is within reach of many predators. Individuals that are more safely buried at a greater depth can only suspension feed, or deposit feed from a small surface area. We expected local differences in burying depth on intertidal mudflats to be caused by differences in immersion time (i.e. time available for feeding, particularly suspension feeding), since immersion time has been shown experimentally to affect body condition positively, and since body condition and burying depth in Macoma are postively related in the field. To test this we experimentally manipulated immersion time, and followed changes in burying depth and body condition. In the experiments, longer immersion time went consistently with greater burying depth of Macoma and higher body condition. On a transect in the western Wadden Sea, the deepest Macoma were indeed found at the intertidal level with the longest immersion time, but these were at that time not the animals with the highest body condition. Within each locality, however, body condition was positively correlated with burying depth. The experimental data and the within-locality data support the hypothesis that longer immersion time may influence burying depth through body condition. However, the fact that between-locality differences in burying depth seemed to be consistently related to immersion time, but not to body condition, indicates that body condition alone does not explain place-to-place variation in burying depth.

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