Advertisement

Marine Biology

, Volume 81, Issue 2, pp 199–207 | Cite as

Diet and food preferences of the adult horseshoe crab Limulus polyphemus in Delaware Bay, New Jersey, USA

  • M. L. Botton
Article

Abstract

Adult horseshoe crabs Limulus polyphemus (L.) feed on a wide variety of infaunal and epifaunal invertebrates during their spring spawning migration in Delaware Bay, New Jersey, USA. Comparison of the gut contents with estimates of available prey showed that the most abundant potential prey item, the bivalve Gemma gemma, was avoided. The thinner shelled but comparatively scarce clam Mulinia lateralis was a preferred prey item. In the laboratory, crabs fed on G. gemma when it was the only available item but not when M. lateralis or soft-shell clams, Mya arenaria, were offered in conjunction. Large M. lateralis (>10mm) were preferred to small M. lateralis; there was no discrimination between M. lateralis and M. arenaria of the same size. Male and female horseshoe crabs had similar gut contents and laboratory feeding preferences, despite the fact that females are larger than males. Crabs spawning later in the summer contained more food than did crabs collected at the peak of spawning activity.

Keywords

Migration Bivalve Prey Item Food Preference Horseshoe Crab 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature cited

  1. Barber, S. D.: Chemoreception and proprioreception in Limulus. J. exp. Zool. 131, 51–69 (1956)Google Scholar
  2. Botton, M. L.: Predation by adult horseshoe crabs, Limulus polyphemus (L.) and its effect on benthic intertidal community structure of breeding beaches in Delaware Bay, New Jersey. Unpublished Ph. D. thesis, Rutgers University 1982Google Scholar
  3. Botton, M. L.: The importance of predation by horseshoe crabs, Limulus polyphemus, to an intertidal sand flat community. J. mar. Res. 42, 139–161 (1984)Google Scholar
  4. Botton, M. L. and H. H. Haskin: Distribution and feeding of the horseshoe crab, Limulus polyphemus, on the continental shelf off New Jersey. Fish. Bull., U.S. (In press)Google Scholar
  5. Carriker, M. R.: Observations on the penetration of tightly closing bivalves by Busycon and other predators. Ecology 32, 73–83 (1951)Google Scholar
  6. Carriker, M. R.: The role of physical and biological factors in the culture of Crassostrea and Mercenaria in a salt-water pond. Ecol. Monogr. 29, 219–266 (1959)Google Scholar
  7. Carter, J. A. and D. H. Steele: Attraction to and selection of prey by immature lobsters (Homarus americanus). Can. J. Zool. 60, 326–336 (1982)Google Scholar
  8. Cohen, E. (Ed.): Biomedical applications of the horseshoe crab (Limulidae), 688 pp. New York: Liss 1979Google Scholar
  9. Darnell, R. M.: Food habits of fishes and larger invertebrates of Lake Ponchartrain, Louisiana, an estuarine community. Publ. Univ. Texas, Inst. mar. Sci. 5, 353–416 (1958)Google Scholar
  10. Elner, R. W. and D. G. Raffaelli: Interactions between two marine snails, Littorina rudis Maton and Littorina nigrolineata Gray, a predator, Carcinus maenas (L.), and a parasite, Microphallus similis Jagerskiold. J. exp. mar. Biol. Ecol. 43, 151–160 (1980)Google Scholar
  11. Hamilton, P. V.: Predation on Littorina irrorata (Mollusca: Gastropoda) by Callinectes sapidus (Crustacea: Portunidae). Bull. mar. Sci. 26, 403–409 (1976)Google Scholar
  12. Haskin, H. H.: The selection of food by the common oyster drill, Urosalpinx cinerea, Say. Proc. natl Shellfish. Assoc. 1950, 62–68 (1950)Google Scholar
  13. Hughes, R. N.: Optimal foraging theory in the marine context. Oceanogr. mar. Biol. ann. Rev. 18, 423–481 (1980)Google Scholar
  14. Ivlev, V.S.: Experimental ecology of the feeding of fishes, 302 pp. New Haven: Yale University Press 1961Google Scholar
  15. Krantz, G. and J. Chamberlin. Blue crab predation on cultchless oyster spat. Proc. natl. Shellfish. Assoc. 68, 38–41 (1978)Google Scholar
  16. Landers, W. S.: Notes on the predation of the hard clam, Venus mercenaria, by the mud crab, Neopanope texana. Ecology 35, 442 (1954)Google Scholar
  17. Lockhead, J. A.: Arthropoda. Xiphosura polyphemus. In: Selected invertebrate types, pp 360–381. Ed. by F. A. Brown. New York: Wiley 1950Google Scholar
  18. Lockwood, S.: The horse food crab. Am. Nat. 4, 257–273 (1870)Google Scholar
  19. MacKenzie, C. L.: Predation on hard clam (Mercenaria mercenaria) populations. Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. 106, 530–537 (1977)Google Scholar
  20. McDermott, J. J.: The predation of oysters and barnacles by crabs of the family Xanthidae. Proc. P. Acad. Sci. 34, 199–211 (1960)Google Scholar
  21. Rudloe, A.: Limulus polyphemus: A review of the ecologically significant literature. In: Biomedical applications of the horseshoe crab (Limulidae), pp 27–35. Ed. by E. Cohen. New York: Liss 1979Google Scholar
  22. Rudloe, A.: Aspects of the biology of juvenile horseshoe crabs, Limulus polyphemus. Bull. mar. Sci. 31, 125–133 (1981)Google Scholar
  23. Schneider, D. C.: Equalization of prey numbers by migratory shorebirds. Nature, Lond. 271, 353–354 (1978)Google Scholar
  24. Sekiguchi, K. and K. Nakamura: Ecology of the extant horseshoe crabs. In: Biomedical applications of the horseshoe crab (Limulidae), pp 37–45. Ed. by E. Cohen. New York: Liss 1979Google Scholar
  25. Shuster, C. N., Jr.: Observations on the natural history of the American horseshoe crab, Limulus polyphemus. Third report on investigations of methods of improving the shellfish resources of Massachusetts. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Contribution no. 564, 18–23 (1950)Google Scholar
  26. Shuster, C. N., Jr.: Distribution of the American horseshoe “crab”, Limulus polyphemus (L.). In: Biomedical applications of the horseshoe crab (Limulidae), pp 3–26. Ed. by E. Cohen. New York: Liss 1979Google Scholar
  27. Shuster, C. N., Jr.: A pictorial review of the natural history and ecology of the horseshoe crab, Limulus polyphemus, with reference to other Limulidae. In: Physiology and biology of horseshoe crabs, pp 1–51. Ed. by J. Bonaventura and C. Bonaventura. New York: Liss 1982Google Scholar
  28. Smith, O. R. and E. Chin: The effects of predation on soft clams, Mya arenaria. Natl Shellfish. Assoc. Convention Addr., 37–44 (1951)Google Scholar
  29. Smith, O. R., Baptist, J. P. and E. Chin: Experimental farming of the soft-shell clam, Mya arenaria, in Massachusetts, 1949–1953. Comm. Fish. Rev. 17, 1–16 (1955)Google Scholar
  30. Strauss, R.: Reliability estimates for Ivlev's electivity index, the forage ratio, and a proposed linear index of food selection. Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. 108, 344–352 (1979)Google Scholar
  31. Tagatz, M. E.: Biology of the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus Rathbun, in the St. Johns River, Florida. Fish. Bull, U.S. 67, 17–33 (1968)Google Scholar
  32. Whetstone, J. and A. Eversole: Predation on hard clams, Mercenaria mercenaria, by mud crabs, Panopeus herbstii. Proc. natl Shellfish. Assoc. 68, 42–48 (1978)Google Scholar
  33. Woodin, S. A.: Disturbance and community structure in a shallow water sand flat. Ecology 62, 1052–1066 (1981)Google Scholar
  34. Wyse, G. A.: Receptor organization and function in Limulus chelae. Z. vergl. Physiol. 73, 249–273 (1971)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. L. Botton
    • 1
  1. 1.Excel DivisionFordham University, College at Lincoln CenterNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations