Optimal foraging versus shared doom effects: interactive influence of mussel size and epibiosis on predator preference.

Enderlein, Peter, Moorthi, Stefanie, Roehrscheidt, Holger and Wahl, Martin (2003) Optimal foraging versus shared doom effects: interactive influence of mussel size and epibiosis on predator preference. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 292 (2). pp. 231-242. DOI 10.1016/S0022-0981(03)00199-0.

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In the western Baltic Sea, the highly competitive blue mussel Mytilus edulis tends to monopolize shallow water hard substrata. In many habitats, mussel dominance is mainly controlled by the generalist predator Carcinus maenas. These predator-prey interactions seem to be affected by mussel size (relative to crab size) and mussel epibionts.

There is a clear relationship between prey size and predator size as suggested by the optimal foraging theory: Each crab size class preferentially preys on a certain mussel size class. Preferred prey size increases with crab size.

Epibionts on Mytilus, however, influence this simple pattern of feeding preferences by crabs. When offered similarly sized mussels, crabs prefer Balanus-fouled mussels over clean mussels. There is, however, a hierarchy of factors: the influence of attractive epibiotic barnacles is weaker than the factor 'mussel size'. Testing small mussels against large mussels, presence or absence of epibiotic barnacles does not significantly alter preferences caused by mussel size. Balanus enhanced crab predation on mussels in two ways: Additional food gain and, probably more important, improvement in handling of the prey. The latter effect is illustrated by the fact that artificial barnacle mimics increased crab predation on mussels to the same extent as do live barnacles.
We conclude that crab predation preferences follows the optimal foraging model when prey belong to different size classes, whereas within size classes crab preferences is controlled by epibionts

Document Type: Article
Keywords: predator-prey interaction; epibiosis; Carcinus maenas; Mytilus edulis; Balanus improvisus; optimal foraging; predation preference
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EOE-B Experimental Ecology - Benthic Ecology
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1016/S0022-0981(03)00199-0
ISSN: 0022-0981
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2014 10:30
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2017 12:19
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/23211

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