Foraging behavior can be influenced by such factors as predation risk, individual size, and parasite infection. Snails (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) placed in tanks with large rocks were exposed to four types of water: (1) water with crushed snails, (2) water from a tank in which fish (Gobiomorphus cotidianus) were fed only trout chow, (3) water from a tank where the fish were also fed snails, and (4) plain water. Snails could respond by moving to the top of rocks (where algal food was present) or to the bottom of rocks (where the predation risk was lower). The snails responded to fish chemicals by moving to the bottom of rocks. The response was dependent on snail size and fish diet. Smaller snails moved to the bottom of rocks more than larger snails did. Trematode-infected snails were found on top of the rocks more than other classes of snails, but infected snails still moved to the bottom of rocks in response to the fish predator. Snails eaten by fish in the field tend to be smaller than snails in the overall available population. Thus, snails that are more vulnerable to predation respond more intensely to the odor of fish by moving to the bottom of rocks. This size-dependent response to fish appears to be independent of the occurrence of trematode infection.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology