Control of foraging behavior of individuals within an ecosystem context: the clam Macoma balthica, flow environment, and siphon-cropping fishes

Peterson, CH and Skilleter, GA (1994) Control of foraging behavior of individuals within an ecosystem context: the clam Macoma balthica, flow environment, and siphon-cropping fishes. Oecologia, 100 3: 256-267. doi:10.1007/BF00316953


Author Peterson, CH
Skilleter, GA
Title Control of foraging behavior of individuals within an ecosystem context: the clam Macoma balthica, flow environment, and siphon-cropping fishes
Journal name Oecologia   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0029-8549
Publication date 1994-01-01
Year available 1994
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/BF00316953
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 100
Issue 3
Start page 256
End page 267
Total pages 12
Place of publication NEW YORK
Publisher Springer-Verlag
Language eng
Subject 2303 Ecology
Abstract Macoma balthica (L.), an abundant clam, ubiquitous in temperate estuaries across the North Atlantic, is known to practice both alternative basic modes of feeding available to seafloor invertebrates. It either holds its feeding organ, the siphon, at a fixed position just above the sediment surface to filter out food particles suspended in the overlying water or else extends and moves its siphon around to vacuum up deposited food particles on the sediment surface. Previous laboratory experiments have established an understanding of the role of current flow in dictating the choice of whether suspension or deposit feeding will be used by marine invertebrates with the facultative flexibility to choose. Faster flows imply greater fluxes of suspended particles so that the energetic rewards of suspension feeding are enhanced. Slower flows imply reduced renewal rates of suspended foods in the bottom boundary layers and enhanced deposition of food particles on the seafloor so that a switch to deposit feeding is favored. Like early optimal foraging theory, this understanding is based on energetic considerations alone without incorporation of broader implications of how population interactions such as predation and competition influence individual foraging behavior. Feeding behavior of Macoma balthica is influenced in the Neuse River estuary by both hydrodynamics and siphon-cropping by juvenile demersal fishes. Under conditions of identical concentrations of suspended particulates in the water column and organic contents of surface sediments, Macoma exhibited much higher levels of deposit feeding where currents were slower. In addition, exclosure and fish inclosure experiments demonstrated that juvenile demersal fishes influence feeding behavior of Macoma by cropping exposed siphons and inducing reduction in deposit-feeding activity. Effects of croppers were substantial in early to midsummer, when juvenile fish abundances were greatest in trawl samples from this estuarine nursery and before the growing fish exhibited ontogenetic changes in diet away from early concentration on bivalve siphons. Field experiments in which siphon-cropping fish were caged at varying distances off the bottom failed to detect any effective behavioral avoidance by Macoma of cropping in response to proximity of fish. One might have hypothesized that under high risk of cropping, Macoma would switch to suspension feeding and away from deposit feeding, the feeding method entailing more risk of losses to croppers because of greater siphon activity and greater extension of siphons on the sediment surface. Consequently, partial predation by siphon-cropping fishes greatly reduces deposit-feeding activity by Macoma balthica during summer as an apparent direct effect of disfigurement and reduction of siphons, the organ required for efficient deposit feeding. Information on current flows alone would not suffice to predict feeding behavior of this marine invertebrate: the influence of partial predation must also be included.
Keyword Deposit feeding
Foraging theory Hydrodynamics
Macoma balthica
Siphon cropping
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Unknown

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: Scopus Import - Archived
 
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