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Feeding preferences and the relationships between food choice and assimilation efficiency in the herbivorous marine snail Lithopoma undosum (Turbinidae)
Cox, T.E.; Murray, S.N. (2006). Feeding preferences and the relationships between food choice and assimilation efficiency in the herbivorous marine snail Lithopoma undosum (Turbinidae). Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 148(6): 1295-1306. hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00227-005-0166-3
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Cox, T.E.
  • Murray, S.N.

Abstract
    Preference rankings for 13 macrophytes were established for the subtidal herbivorous snail Lithopoma undosum using two-choice laboratory experiments and consumption rates. L. undosum did not discriminate among three kelp foods (Egregia menziesii, Eisenia arborea and Macrocystis pyrifera) but ate kelp preferentially and more rapidly over all but Ulva spp. among tested macrophytes. Secondary preferences were established for the red alga Pterocladiella capillacea, followed by the coralline Lithothrix aspergillum, whereas the brown seaweeds Zonaria farlowii and Halidrys dioica and the seagrass Phyllospadix torreyi were the least preferred macrophytes. Fastest consumption rates (1.91 g day-1) were measured in trials consisting only of kelp foods. These results indicate that L. undosum exhibits clear feeding preferences even when given less-preferred, non-kelp macrophytes. Using an ash-marker technique, we determined total organic, carbon, and nitrogen assimilation efficiencies (AE%) for six macroalgae used in preference trials. Tested macrophytes were assimilated at different efficiencies but a pattern was not detected between AE (%) and a macrophyte’s position in L. undosum’s preference hierarchy. Highest total organic AEs were found for P. capillacea (61.2%) and H. dioica (59.4%); lowest AEs were detected for E. menziesii (34.9%), a preferred dietary item. Nitrogen was assimilated from red algae with higher efficiencies (74.9–84.3%) than from brown or green algae. These data suggest that the digestive capabilities of L. undosum are better suited for assimilating organic material and nitrogen from less-preferred, non-kelp foods. This supports the hypothesis that factors besides nutritional composition and digestive optimization have played a role in the evolution of feeding preferences in L. undosum and probably other herbivorous snails associated with northeastern Pacific kelp beds.

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