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Food preference, food quality and diets of three herbivorous gastropods (Trochidae: Tegula) in a temperate kelp forest habitat

Summary

The relationship between food preference and food quality (i.e. a food's contribution to growth and reproductive development) was examined in the laboratory for 3 species of herbivorous kelp forest gastropods (Tegula). The preference hierarchies of the 3 Tegula for 6 common algal species are the same: giant kelp (Macrocystis) is the most preferred food and brown algae are consumed at higher rates than red algae. Despite their strong preference for Macrocystis, the 3 species had significantly greater growth and/or reproductive development on a mixed-algae diet than on either brown or red algae alone. Laboratory preferences of the snails did not correspond closely with caloric content, estimated availability or quality of the algal species used in this study. However, the 3 Tegula are subject to strong benthic predation and Macrocystis provides an important spatial refuge in nature. The potential role of non-nutritional factors such as predator avoidance on the formation of food preferences is discussed.

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Watanabe, J.M. Food preference, food quality and diets of three herbivorous gastropods (Trochidae: Tegula) in a temperate kelp forest habitat. Oecologia 62, 47–52 (1984). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00377371

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00377371

Keywords

  • Food Quality
  • Strong Preference
  • Brown Alga
  • Algal Species
  • Food Preference