Defensive Responses of Marine Gastropods (Prosobranchia, Trochidae) to Certain Predatory Seastars and the Dire Whelk, Searlesia dira (Reeve)

Hoffman, Daniel L.
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University of Hawaii Press
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Qualitative comparisons of the predator-induced defensive behaviors of four species of trochid gastropod, Margarites pupillus, M. salmoneus, M. rhodia, and Calliostoma ligatum, under controlled laboratory conditions indicate that the degree and strength of the response varies according to the sensory information received from a predator and according to the species of predatory seastar or gastropod inducing the response. Generally, all four species of gastropod demonstrate a weak to moderate avoidance response to the scent of such predatory seastars as Leptasterias hexactis and Pisaster ochraceus; whereas direct contact with their soft parts elicits strong and often violent defensive behaviors characterized by shell twisting, propodial rearing which often leads to a loss of contact with the substrate, and somersaulting by metapodial thrusting. It is hypothesized that the inversion of the shell induced by direct contact with a predator sets up the metapodial thrusting behavior and also part of the righting repertoire, which facilitates more rapid flight from the predator. Margarites spp. respond to the scent and contact with the dire whelk, Searlesia dira; whereas Calliostoma is unresponsive to the snail, but more responsive to the scent and contact of the sunstar Pycnopodia helianthoides than are the other species of gastropods studied.
Hoffman DL. 1980. Defensive responses of marine gastropods (Prosobranchia, Trochidae) to certain predatory seastars and the dire whelk, Searlesia dira (Reeve). Pac Sci 34(3): 233-243.
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