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Effect of the presence of the shore crab, Carcinus maenas, on burrowing behaviour and clearance rate of the common cockle, Cerastoderma edule
- Romano, C., Sarà, G., Salvo, G., Bishop, J., Mazzola, A., Widdows, J.
- Marine biology 2011 v.158 no.12 pp. 2685-2694
- Carcinus maenas, Cerastoderma edule, adaptation, burrowing, cages, cough, crabs, predators, risk, sand, tanks
- Bivalves demonstrate various morphological and behavioural adaptations to reduce the risk of being attacked by predators. This paper examines how the presence of the crab Carcinus maenas (L.), a natural predator of the cockle Cerastoderma edule (L.), affects its burrowing depth and clearance or feeding rate. Cockles were placed in experimental tanks and treated with three levels of predatory disturbance: (1) unfed crab loose inside the tank, (2) unfed crab inside a cage suspended in the water column and (3) no crab present. Cockles’ burrowing depth was measured in two sediment types: mud and sand. Cockles burrowed more deeply in treatments with no crabs. Burrowing depth in sand was significantly greater than in mud. Two factors may contribute to the reduction in burial depth of C. edule in the presence of C. maenas: the change in the vertical orientation of the cockle and the ‘cough response’. No significant difference was found in the cockles’ clearance rate among the different levels of predator threat.