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Predation on egg capsules of Zidona dufresnei (Volutidae): ecological implications

Roche, Andrea, Maggioni, Matías, Narvarte, Maite
Marine biology 2011 v.158 no.12 pp. 2787-2793
Gastropoda, crabs, eggs, embryogenesis, energy, females, predation, predators, progeny, snails, summer
Among the diverse patterns of energy allocation to the offspring of gastropods, the presence of egg capsules to protect embryos is common. Females of the edible snail Zidona dufresnei attach egg capsules to hard substrates in shallow Argentine Patagonian waters (40°45′S, 64°56′W) during spring-summer. Embryonic development takes about 30 days at 22°C. In this study, three likely capsule predator species and the marks left by each on egg capsule walls were identified in laboratory experiments in February 2010. Abundances of predators and egg capsules with evidence of predation were assessed in the field in the summers of 2010 and 2011. Under laboratory conditions (N = 10 replicates per treatment and control), the predation rate by the chiton Chaetopleura isabellei was the highest (up to 90%), followed by the gastropod Tegula patagonica and the crab Neohelice granulata (~20% each). Nearly 60% of 41 capsules found in the field showed signs of predation. According to the marks identified in the laboratory, C. isabellei was responsible for 79% of this predation, and T. patagonica for the rest. Predation appears to be important during the encapsulated early life and could be an agent for selecting for resistant capsule walls and a relatively shorter development time.