MEPS 353:131-135 (2008)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07204

Behavioural response to interference competition in a sessile suspension feeder

Antonius Gagern*, Timo Schürg, Nico K. Michiels, Gregor Schulte, Dennis Sprenger, Nils Anthes

Animal Evolutionary Ecology, Zoological Institute, Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen, Auf der Morgenstelle 28, 72076 Tübingen, Germany

ABSTRACT: The sessile suspension-feeding worm-snail Dendropoma maxima Sowerby, 1825 (Vermetidae) secretes a mucous web to capture planktonic prey. In dense groups, the feeding webs of neighbouring snails frequently overlap and stick together. This may create direct food competition between neighbours because the earlier retracting snail may get more than its fair share of the prey. While field observations indicate that web overlap may generate retarded growth, we experimentally studied whether web overlap also triggers a phenotypic response in feeding behaviour. In our experiment we consecutively placed focal snails in a place by themselves (solitary) or close to a neighbouring snail such that webs overlapped, starting with either of the 2 conditions in half of the experimental individuals to exclude sequence effects. We found that focals retracted their feeding web significantly earlier when close to a neighbour than when solitary. Our experiments thus confirm a phenotypic response through early web retraction in D. maxima, indicating that direct interference competition affects worm-snail behaviour.


KEY WORDS: Phenotypic plasticity · Food competition · Suspension feeding · Prisoner’s Dilemma


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Cite this article as: Gagern A, Schürg T, Michiels NK, Schulte G, Sprenger D, Anthes N (2008) Behavioural response to interference competition in a sessile suspension feeder. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 353:131-135. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07204

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