, Volume 157, Issue 4, pp 737-745
Date: 04 Dec 2009

Siphon nipping facilitates lethal predation in the clam Mesodesma mactroides (Reeve, 1854) (Mollusca: Bivalva)

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In soft sediment marine communities, fishes frequently bite off extended siphons of buried clams; the consequential shortening of the siphon is known to reduce burial depth of the clams, secondarily increasing their vulnerability to lethal excavating predators. In this study, siphon nipping on the yellow clam, Mesodesma mactroides, was simulated by removing the top 6.6–30% of siphons. This caused a burrow reduction in 25–75%, respectively, compared to control individuals with intact siphons, in field and laboratory trials. To examine subsequent consequences of reduced burial depth, we exposed nipped and intact clams to potential predators in the laboratory simulating the observed natural clam abundance. Artificially nipped clams were consumed twice as much as control clams. The present results suggest that sympatric croppers contribute to the stock recovery failure by facilitation of lethal predation and that re-seeding to increase the local abundance of M. mactroides should be an essential aspect of conservation efforts in South America.

Communicated by S. D. Connell.