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Free Content Differential Algal Consumption by Three Species of Fissurella (Mollusca: Gastropoda) at Isla De Margarita, Venezuela

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Visual observations and gut analyses were used to determine types of food ingested by Fissurella nimbosa (Linnaeus, 1758), F. nodosa (Born, 1778), and F. barbadensis (Gmelin, 1791) at Isla de Margarita, Venezuela. Although these animals have a wide variety of algal sources from which to select and on which they appear to feed in an opportunistic fashion, specific food preferences exist. Fissurella nodosa prefers encrusting microalgae and diatoms; F. nimbosa ingests laminar sheets of predominantly brown algae; F. barbadensis feeds on a wide variety of algae but often selects coralline algae of which it ingests entire branches. In zones of overlap, it is hypothesized that competition for food among Fissurella species is minimal due to resource allocation through food preference. Laboratory experiments indicate that all three congeners can ingest a greater variety of algal types than they normally consume in the field. Differential food consumption indicates significantly more elaborate niche partitioning among tropical intertidal Fissurella than was previously known.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 1990

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