Shell Damage in Salt Marsh Periwinkles (Littoraria irrorata [Say, 1822]) and Resistance to Future Attacks by Blue Crabs (Callinectes sapidus [Rathbun, 1896])

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callinectes, littoraria, predation, salt marsh, shell repair


Unsuccessful predation by the blue crab (Callinectes sapidus [Rathbun, 1896]) on salt marsh periwinkle snails (Linoraria irrorata [Say, 1822]) could result in shell damage and the subsequent development of a visible shell scar. We experimentally determined whether scarred L. irrorata are more or less resistant to blue crab predation than unscarred individuals. We simultaneously presented equal numbers of similar-sized scarred and unscarred snails to individual blue crabs and recorded the number of each type of snail consumed. We also compared shell attributes of scarred and unscarred snails from two marsh sites on Sapelo Island, Georga, U. S. A. Crabs consumed significantly more unscarred than scarred snails, suggesting that unscarred snails are more easily accessed. This pattern was more pronounced when the snails were close to the maximum edible size. Measurements indicated that the shells of scarred snails had significantly thicker lips than those of unscarred snails. These results demonstrate that shell scars correlate with greater predation resistance in L. irrorata.

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American Malacological Bulletin, v. 17, p. 141-146