, Volume 144, Issue 4, pp 705-712
Date: 15 Nov 2003

The effect of feeding behavior of the gastropods Batillaria zonalis and Cerithideopsilla cingulata on their ambient environment

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Abstract

Feeding behaviors of the gastropods Batillaria zonalis, a suspension and deposit feeder, and Cerithideopsilla cingulata, an obligate deposit feeder, were studied to examine their effect on dynamics of suspended materials, total nitrogen (TN) and total organic carbon (TOC) in sediments. Suspension feeding in B. zonalis was observed in detail visually, as it had been previously unreported. An experimental system where B. zonalis and C. cingulata were cultured for 10 weeks, using previously frozen microalgae Nannochloropsis oculata as food, was then constructed. During feeding observations, the suspension-feeding B. zonalis formed a mucus “food cord” to entangle particulate materials, which were subsequently ingested. The feeding mode of B. zonalis is hence categorized as ctenidial filter feeding. For the culture experiments, decreases in suspended materials were seen only in the B. zonalis cultures, while the control (no gastropods) and C. cingulata cultures remained nearly unchanged. Sediment TN and TOC showed no significant differences between B. zonalis (with mean TN at 0.0345% and mean TOC at 0.261%) and control cultures (with TN at 0.0389% and TOC at 0.331%), but the sediments in C. cingulata cultures had lower levels (with TN at 0.0204% and TOC at 0.156%). The C/N ratios were similar for both B. zonalis (7.55) and C. cingulata (7.68) cultures, and both were lower than the control cultures (8.55). The filtration rate for B. zonalis was lower than that previously observed in bivalves inhabiting the same intertidal flat (e.g. Cyclina sinensis, Grafrarium tumidum and Barbatia virescens). However, Batillaria zonalis occurs at higher abundances than these bivalves. Therefore, it is expected that this species has a large affect upon the transport of suspended materials to the sediments. The addition of TN and TOC to sediments in B. zonalis cultures was probably caused by biodeposition, but deposit feeding by B. zonalis may have restrained the accumulation of those components. The impact of deposit feeding in Cerithideopsilla cingulata cultures was most probably stronger than sedimentation and biodeposition, because of the lower sediment TN and TOC. Bioturbation by both B. zonalis and C. cingulata yields the same effect on sediment quality, as indicated by the low C/N in the culture sediment of both treatments, despite difference in feeding modes. This paper demonstrates, for the first time, the importance of gastropods in bioturbation and removal of suspended materials in subtropical tidal flat habitats.

Communicated by T. Ikeda, Hakodate