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Prey selection by molluscivorous cichlids foraging on a schistosomiasis vector snail, Biomphalaria glabrata

Summary

This paper considers prey size selection by four molluscivorous cichlids feeding on the intermediate host snail of Schistosoma parasites, Biomphalaria glabrata. Haplochromis ishmaeli obtains its prey by crushing the snails between the pharyngeal jaws, whereas H. xenognathus, H. sauvagei and Macropleurodus bicolor apply both pharyngeal crushing and oral shelling. The fishes crushed significantly more snails with the highest reward in biomass per second of crushing. Oral shelling occurred far less often than pharyngeal crushing. Encounter rates with prey showed significant variations between different size classes of prey. The fish have no overall knowledge of snail availability in a tank. The probability that a snail will be eaten at encounter, calculated from the number encountered and the number eaten, reflects the prey size preference of the fish. Those snails with the highest biomass/crushing-time ratio had the highest probability of being crushed; observed and predicted prey size preferences corresponded well. Although for oral shelling the potential reward in biomass per second is of the same magnitude as for crushing, the probability of successful shelling is very low. Apparently the fish prefer prey with lowest risks.

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Slootweg, R. Prey selection by molluscivorous cichlids foraging on a schistosomiasis vector snail, Biomphalaria glabrata . Oecologia 74, 193–202 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00379359

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00379359

Key words

  • Molluscivorous cichlids
  • Prey selection
  • Biomphalaria glabrata