RAIN EVENTS INFLUENCE SHORT-TERM FEEDING PREFERENCES IN THE SNAIL CEPAEA NEMORALIS

Paul Mensink, Hugh Henry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Terrestrial gastropods are both herbivores and detritivores, but the ratio between these two modes of feeding can be highly variable over time. While previous studies have examined long-term seasonal patterns in the consumption of fresh material, mechanisms explaining short-term variation in dietary preferences have not been explored. We used faecal analysis to determine how short-term variation in weather affects the ratio of herbivory to detritivory in the land snail Cepaea nemoralis. Averaged across sampling dates, c. 9% of the faeces were composed of fresh plant material, with the remainder consisting of plant litter and soil. Temperature, relative humidity and soil moisture did not affect the proportional consumption of fresh material; however, snails consumed more soil with increasing temperature. If there had not been a recent precipitation event, the mean proportion of fresh material in the faeces more than doubled on average; however, this increase only occurred in areas of low herbaceous cover. Our results suggest that an increased proportion of snails consume fresh material during dry periods to compensate for water losses. Moreover, our study highlights that studies of dietary composition in the field need to account for short-term variation in feeding
preferences caused by weather.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-247
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Molluscan Studies
Volume77
Early online date25 May 2011
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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