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Selectivity in feeding by the deposit-feeding bivalve Macoma nasuta


Macoma nasuta Conrad is primarily a deposit-feeding bivalve sucking the top millimeter of the sediment surface. Growth experiments show that surface sediment supports growth better than detritus falling from the water column. Gut clearance time is between 1 and 9 h (12°C). Fecal pellets are ejected in a regular rhythm. However, the total amount of feces per unit time shows considerable individual variation. Due to sorting in the mantle cavity, about 97% (dry weight) of the surface material is ejected again as pseudofeces. Selectivity by the bivalve is estimated by comparison of particle size and organic composition of sandy and muddy sediments and compared with feces produced by clams fed these sediments. Fecal pellets are in all cases richer in organic components than the sediment, indicating a high degree of selectivity. Ingestion and digestion of small animals (meiofauna) occur, but many of the ingested specimens survive. It is not possible to estimate the assimilation of organic matter by simple difference between the ingested sediment and the ejected feces. The difficulties in calculating energy budgets which arise from selective feeding and associated bacteria are discussed.

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Communicated by T. Fenchel, Aarhus

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Hylleberg, J., Gallucci, V.F. Selectivity in feeding by the deposit-feeding bivalve Macoma nasuta . Mar. Biol. 32, 167–178 (1975).

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  • Assimilation
  • Sorting
  • Bivalve
  • Sediment Surface
  • Detritus