The effects of variable food supply on growth rate and feeding behaviour in two coexisting intertidal gastropods were examined through field and laboratory experiments involving mark and recapture procedures, growth experiments under controlled food supply and video observations of feeding. All cohorts of both Japeuthria species grew most in summer, with the highest growth rate being achieved by the youngest cohort of both sexes. In contrast, almost all cohorts (except the youngest one) showed zero to negative growth in winter. The growth rates of Japeuthria species clearly varied depending on feeding frequencies and the initial size of individuals. Females of both species had a significantly higher growth rate than males, though the difference became less marked with decreasing food supply. The total time spent on feeding and the length of the first feeding bout generally increased as the duration of the interval between meals was increased across treatments. From both the field growth experiment and the observations of feeding behaviour it is clear that J. ferrea had a higher frequency of feeding than J. cingulata in the field; 1- to 3-d intervals of feeding frequency in the former and 3- to 6-d intervals in the latter. Most notably, the two species showed a reversal in growth rates with changing conditions of food supply. When food was relatively abundant J. ferrea achieved better growth than J. cingulata, but J. cingulata grew better than J. ferrea under low food supply. In view of the fact that J. ferrea seems to be competitively superior to J. cingulata under normal levels, the present observation that J. cingulata can perform better than J. ferrea when food availability is low gives an important advantage to the latter in terms of its coexistence with the former.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science