, Volume 135, Issue 2, pp 281-287

Effect of food availability on egg production and packaging in the intertidal scavenging gastropod Nassarius festivus

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Individuals of the scavenging gastropod Nassarius festivus (Powys) were maintained for 12 weeks at one of the three ration levels, i.e. one meal every 2, 7 or 14 d, and the effect on growth and fecundity were determined. The number and size of egg capsules, number of eggs per capsule and the calorific value of eggs together with the egg capsules decreased as food availability decreased. The size of the eggs, however, was not affected. At the end of the experiment, the cumulative mortalities were high for individuals maintained at the high and medium ration and were 56.3% and 50%, respectively, whereas the mortality was only 16.7% at the low ration. There was no increase in the shell length but a decrease in the total wet weight for all the treatments. As food availability decreased, the proportion of consumed energy allocated to reproduction decreased from 7.2% to 1.4%. This plastic life history may be a mechanism enabling scavengers to survive in an environment of which the food availability is patchy and unpredictable.

Received: 14 August 1998 / Accepted: 23 July 1999