Effects of sponge and barnacle encrustation on survival of the scallop Chlamys hastata
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- Farren, H.M. & Donovan, D.A. Hydrobiologia (2007) 592: 225. doi:10.1007/s10750-007-0743-1
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The scallop Chlamys hastata frequently carries epibionts such as sponges and barnacles on its shells. Although the scallop-sponge relationship has been characterized as a mutualism, little is known about the scallop-barnacle relationship. This study investigated the effects of sponge and barnacle encrustation on the ability of C. hastata to avoid predation by the sea star Pycnopodia helianthoides. In feeding trials, P. helianthoides caught and consumed significantly more barnacle-encrusted scallops (7.7 ± 0.8 out of 20 scallops) than scallops encrusted by either of the sponges Myxilla incrustans (4.1 ± 0.9) or Mycale adhaerens (3.0 ± 0.5). Epibiont-free scallops (5.7 ± 0.5) formed an intermediate treatment between barnacle-encrusted and sponge-encrusted scallops. Possible mechanisms by which the sponges protected the scallops were investigated in two ways: two feeding trials were videotaped to allow qualitative analysis of sea star and scallop behavior and sea star feeding responses to scallop and sponge homogenates were determined to investigate if sea stars accept scallops and sponges as prey. Sea stars displayed positive feeding responses to scallop puree 97.5% ± 1.6 of the time while only displaying positive responses to Mycale adhaerens homogenate 4.4% ± 2.0 of the time and to Myxilla incrustans homogenate 4.4% ± 2.9 of the time. The videotaped feeding trials indicated that interference with tube feet adhesion by the sponge deterred predation. Observations of both sea stars that were videotaped showed that neither avoided trying to capture sponge-encrusted scallops, and at no time was a captured scallop willingly released by the sea stars. Thus, it appears that sponges provide tactile-mechanical protection and possibly chemical or tactile camouflage in this predator/prey relationship. Finally, the effects of sponge encrustation on barnacle settlement were determined. Field experiments showed that barnacle larvae settled more frequently on epibiont-free scallops than on those with either of the two sponges, potentially protecting the scallops from an epibiont that increases the scallop’s susceptibility to predation.