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Fish Predation and the Evolution of Gastropod Shell Sculpture: Experimental and Geographic Evidence

A. Richard Palmer
Evolution
Vol. 33, No. 2 (Jun., 1979), pp. 697-713
DOI: 10.2307/2407792
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2407792
Page Count: 17
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Fish Predation and the Evolution of Gastropod Shell Sculpture: Experimental and Geographic Evidence
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Abstract

Two general types of shell-breaking predation on marine gastropods are distinguished. The first is best typified by crabs which exhibit several modes of attack and are capable of breaking shells in a variety of ways. A second is illustrated by teleost fishes and rays that crush shells in their jaws and are restricted in the manner of attack. Several experiments demonstrate that stout spines or nodes about the periphery of a snail's shell significantly reduce its vulnerability to predators of the latter group. Other morphologies are considered and their potential effectiveness against shell crushing by fish discussed. Species of teleost fishes and rays that crush their gastropod prey are found not only to be more numerous in tropical oceans than temperate ones, but also appear to be more specialized in their diet. The nearly exclusive tropical occurrence of stout spinose or nodulose sculpture supports the hypothesis (Vermeij, 1974, 1978) that geographic variation in predation intensity may lead to regional differences in the frequencies of certain defensive morphologies.

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