Phenotypic plasticity of burrowing depth in the bivalve Macoma balthica: experimental evidence and general implications
Pim Edelaar, 2000. "Phenotypic plasticity of burrowing depth in the bivalve Macoma balthica: experimental evidence and general implications", The Evolutionary Biology of the Bivalvia, E. M. Harper, J. D. Taylor, J. A. Crame
Download citation file:
Depth of burrowing in bivalves presents the individual with a trade-off: burrowing more deeply increases safety against predators but shallow burrowing increases food intake. Large variation in burrowing depth exists both between and within species. This study investigated whether part of this variation in depth in the tellinid Macoma balthica can be attributed to phenotypic plasticity. A predatory crab and food availability were either offered or withheld in separate aquaria and the response in burrowing depth measured. Individuals burrowed more deeply in the presence of a crab but only to shallow depths in the presence of food. This suggests that individuals can assess their environment and subsequently make decisions on their burrowing depth.
Phenotypic plasticity like this flexible anti-predation behaviour in M. balthica can have far-ranging effects. In the presence of predators burrowing depth increases, reducing energy uptake and subsequent growth and reproduction, whereas increased burrowing depths reduces mortality by predation, further affecting prey and predator population dynamics.
Figures & Tables
The Evolutionary Biology of the Bivalvia
Bivalves are key components of Recent marine and freshwater ecosystems and have been so for most of the Phanerozoic. Their rich and long fossil record, combined with their abundance and diversity in modern seas, has made bivalves the ideal subject of palaeobiological and evolutionary studies. Despite this, however, topics such as the early evolution of the class, relationships between various taxa and the life habits of some key extinct forms have remained remarkably unclear.
In the last few years there has been enormous expansion in the range of techniques available to both palaeontologists and zoologists and key discoveries of new faunas which shed new light on the evolutionary biology of this important class.
This volume integrates palaeontological and zoological approaches and sheds new light on the course of bivalve evolution. This series of 32 original papers tackles key issues including: up to date molecular phylogenies of major groups; new hard and soft tissue morphological cladistic analyses; reassessments of the early Palaeozoic radiation; important new observations on form and functional morphology; analyses of biogeography and biodiversity; novel (palaeo)ecological studies