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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 688:57-67 (2022)  -  DOI:

Shell remodeling in response to increased risk of predation in a marine snail

David M. Charifson1,3,*, Paul E. Bourdeau2, Dianna K. Padilla1

1Department of Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook University, 650 Life Sciences Building, Stony Brook, New York 11794-5245, USA
2Department of Biological Sciences, Humboldt State University, 1 Harpst St, Arcata, California 95521, USA
3Present address: Department of Biology, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, 300 Pulteney St, Geneva, New York 14456, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Biomineralized structures in animals can undergo remodeling, altering the original construction of the structure. Remodeling such structures could enhance plastic inducible defenses and mitigate some hypothesized limits to adaptive phenotypic plasticity. Predator-induced shell thickening in marine snails, already a model for studies of adaptive plasticity, provides a potentially good system to study the role of hardened structure remodeling for enhancing the adaptive value of phenotypically plastic responses. However, studies on predator-induced shell plasticity tend to examine only recent shell growth, and plastic remodeling of older regions of the shell has been previously unexplored. Therefore, we examined the potential for shell remodeling by the marine snail Nucella lamellosa in response to its major predator, the shell-breaking predatory crab Cancer productus. For snails exposed to chemical cues from C. productus, shell thickness and microstructure in the newest parts of the shell differed from controls. In response to chemical cues from C. productus, snails also remodeled older parts of the shell, producing overall thicker shells toward the apex compared to controls. This predator-induced shell remodeling may provide a new model for examining inducible defenses and the role of reversibility and epi-phenotype limits to adaptive phenotypic plasticity.

KEY WORDS: Inducible defenses · Phenotypic plasticity · Nucella lamellosa · Shell microstructure · Gastropod · Cancer productus

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Cite this article as: Charifson DM, Bourdeau PE, Padilla DK (2022) Shell remodeling in response to increased risk of predation in a marine snail. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 688:57-67.

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