Inducible defenses in the eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica Gmelin in response to the presence of the predatory oyster drill Urosalpinx cinerea Say in Long Island Sound
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The response of the eastern oyster C. virginica to the presence of the oyster drill Urosalpinx cinerea was examined from July to September 2011. Several aspects of oyster growth were measured, including wet weight, shell weight, and dorsal shell area for oysters collected near Groton, Connecticut (41.32036 N, −72.06330 W). Wet weight and shell weight growth were significantly higher in the presence of the predator U. cinerea, while tissue weight showed no difference from the control. The control group showed more shell area growth and a much lower ratio of shell weight growth to shell area growth. Differences in shell weight to area ratio indicated that C. virginica dramatically shifted from lateral shell growth to shell thickening in the presence of U. cinerea. This inducible defense has not been previously shown for C. virginica and could play an important role in the predator–prey interaction between these two species.
KeywordsShell Thickness Shell Growth Inducible Defense Thick Shell Predator Treatment
Thanks to Jeremy Calini and Wendy Turek, who were instrumental in the design, setup, and execution of this experiment. Additional thanks to Zair Burris for assistance with pre-experimental measurements. The project was funded by grants from the Connecticut College Sea Grant and U.S. EPA—STAR programs.
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