Prey Selection by the South African Cape Rock Lobster Jasus Lalandii: Ecological and Physiological Approaches
Certain aspects of the foraging behavior of the Cape Rock Lobster, Jasus lalandii, were investigated to determine whether this animal selects prey or merely feeds randomly on a variety of prey items in proportion to their abundance. We also investigated the lobsters' ability to digest unusual food items, e.g., sponges and seaweeds, which are sometimes found in large quantities in their gut. The study combined field observations with analyses of gut contents and digestive enzyme activity. The results suggest that Jasus lalandii is primarily a carnivore with limited ability to digest plant tissue. Preferred foods are black and ribbed mussels (Choromytilus meridionalis and Aulacomya ater correspondingly), and a large variety of marine arthropods; activities of protease and chitinase are strong. Seaweeds are probably only incidentally caught by lobsters. They are only sporadically found in lobster guts. Moreover, neither laminarinase nor alginase activity, which is essential for the digestion of plant tissue, was detected. It is possible, however, that Jasus lalandii extracts some starches from marine plants as amylase activity in their gut is strong. The most significant finding of this study is the ability of lobsters to feed on and digest sponges. This is evidenced by large quantities of sponge in certain lobster guts and strong activity of the protease gelatinase (which breaks down the sponge collagen skeleton).
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 01 January 1996
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