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Foraging behaviour of Carcinus maenas on Mytilus edulis: the importance of prey presentation
Burch, A.; Seed, R. (2000). Foraging behaviour of Carcinus maenas on Mytilus edulis: the importance of prey presentation. J. Mar. Biol. Ass. U.K. 80: 799-810.
In: Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Cambridge University Press/Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom: Cambridge. ISSN 0025-3154; e-ISSN 1469-7769, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Burch, A.
  • Seed, R., more

    The manner in which mussels, Mytilus edulis, are presented to Carcinus maenas significantly influences crab prey-selection, resulting in different foraging behaviour. Handling techniques, breaking and handling times, percentage flesh eaten and prey value curves were compared when mussels of the following size-classes, 5-10, 10-15, 15-20, 20-25, 25-30 mm shell length, were presented singly and when they were presented as part of a group to crabs of 30-55 mm carapace width. When prey were presented singly, crabs used four size-specific opening techniques; outright crushing and directed crushing were used on smaller prey whilst boring and edge-chipping were used on larger, more resistant mussels. However, when mussels were presented as part of a group, boring and edge-chipping were never observed since larger mussels were not consumed. Handling time increased exponentially with mussel size irrespective of how mussels were presented, but, when crabs fed on mussels presented as part of a group, handling times tended to be shorter than when they fed on similar-sized mussels presented singly. The median percentage of flesh left uneaten in discarded shells ranged between 9.58 and 25.25% and was significantly greater than the median percentage of flesh left in the shells of mussels presented singly, which ranged between 4.66 and 14.70%. All resultant prey value curves were convex in shape, but the predicted optimal prey size altered with modifications in prey presentation. Similarly, when crabs of 30-65 mm carapace width were presented with groups of mussels comprised of different proportions of different sizes of mussels, size-class vulnerability was not fixed but altered significantly with the relative proportions in which these were presented. Thus, when the relative number of mussels in the smaller size groups were increased so was their vulnerability, indicating that prey size preference is flexible and not fixed.

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