Prey Preference in a Caribbean Corallivore, Coralliophlla Abbreviata (Lamarck) (Gastropoda, Coralliophilidae)
The corallivorous gastropod Coralliophila abbreviata (Lamarck) feeds on a variety of corals. Field observations and laboratory experiments have produced a confusing picture of patterns of prey preference in this predator. I conducted a series of controlled preference tests in naturalistic conditions in order to clarify this aspect of the feeding ecology of C. abbreviata. Snails tended to prefer the coral on which they had been resident in the field, but approximately one-third of snails tested preferred other corals. There was no single “preferred” host coral, nor was there any relationship between snail size and coral chosen. This plasticity in feeding choice may allow snail populations to persist after even radical changes in prey community composition (e.g., following a hurricane). As a result, no host coral species can escape predation by driving this predator to extinction.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1990-09-01
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