Breaking down the mussel (Mytilus edulis) shell: Which layers affect Oystercatchers' (Haematopus ostralegus) prey selection?
Lea, Stephen E.G.
Le Rossignol, André P.
Buckingham, Sam G.
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Predators are able to identify fine characteristic features of prey and use them to maximise the profitability of foraging. Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus select thin-shelled mussels Mytilus edulis to hammer through because they are easier to crack than thick-shelled mussels. But mussel shells are composite structures, so we need to ask what it is about these thin-shelled mussels that make them vulnerable. Here we show that the mussels damaged by Oystercatchers were mainly distinguished by having a significantly thinner prismatic layer than undamaged mussels. Regression analysis indicated that the Oystercatchers' shell selection was independently influenced by the thickness of the prismatic and nacreous layers, but the coefficient for the thickness of the prismatic layer was almost one and a half times that for the nacreous layer. Thus the thickness of the prismatic layer largely determines the vulnerability of the mussel shells. Oystercatchers were more likely to attack mussels by the right valve than the left, and this tendency was accentuated in larger mussels and those with a thicker nacreous layer.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier. NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 2011, Vol. 405, Issue 1-2, pp. 87 – 92 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jembe.2011.05.021
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 2011, Vol. 405, Issue 1-2, pp. 87 - 92