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Trait compensation in marine gastropods: shell shape, avoidance behavior, and susceptibility to predation

By Peter A. Cotton, Simon D. Rundle and Kathryn E. Smith


Many organisms have evolved morphological and behavioral traits that reduce their susceptibility to predation. However, few studies have explicitly investigated the relationships between defensive traits and susceptibility. Here we demonstrate a negative correlation between morphological defenses and behavioral avoidance across several species of marine gastropod that is linked to vulnerability to crab predation. Snails that had relatively taller shell spires (high aspect ratio) showed greater responsiveness when exposed to predation cues than did species with disc-like shells (low aspect ratio). Our results suggest that the snail species most vulnerable to predation compensated by showing the highest levels of behavioral avoidance, and hence may be at a disadvantage in competition with less vulnerable species. This has important implications because the behavioral response of herbivorous gastropods to predation cues may play a central role in structuring rocky intertidal communities through trait-mediated indirect effects

Topics: GC, QH301
Year: 2004
OAI identifier:
Provided by: e-Prints Soton

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