Leaf mechanical properties modulate feeding movements and ingestive success of the pond snail, Lymnaea stagnalis
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We examined the mechanical properties of Butterhead and Iceberg lettuce leaves, and the rate at which they were eaten by the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis. The outer part of Butterhead leaves were less robust than either the inner Butterhead or outer Iceberg leaves (Young’s modulus 2.8, 5.2, 7.7 MPa respectively; ultimate tensile stress 0.18, 0.34 0.51 MPa) which were also thicker. Snails ingested inner Butterhead and Iceberg strips more slowly (36 and 32%) than outer Butterhead. This was not due to differences in latency to first bite or biting rate. Rather, the drop was due to a decrease in the proportion of successful bites (inner Butterhead 84%; Iceberg 86%), to a shorter length ingested per bite (inner Butterhead 55%; Iceberg 45%) and to increased handling time (inner Butterhead 30%). We conclude that sensory input from the mechanically more robust lettuce slows the buccal central pattern generator.
KeywordsLymnaea Mollusc Feeding Lettuce Biomechanics Sensory modulation
We are grateful to Jacob Ward, Bootham School, for help with data collection and analysis.
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