The transfer of seaweeds from subtidal bottoms to nearby intertidal rocky shores is a common but often overlooked phenomenon. Freshly detached seaweeds often represent critical trophic subsidies for herbivores living in upper-shore rocky intertidal areas, such as the marine snail Diloma nigerrima. This species relies on three species of seaweeds for food and displays feeding strategies to deal with a resource that is scarce and at times unpredictable. This study focused on the nutritional quality of freshly detached algae (Durvillaea antarctica, Lessonia spicata and Lessonia trabeculata) and measured Diloma nigerrima’s algal consumption rates in trials with and without choice. Absorption efficiency and growth of individual snails fed on each alga were also measured. Durvillaea antarctica had the highest nutritional quality and was the most consumed algae in both single and multiple-choice trials. Absorption efficiency was also highest for D. antarctica but growth rates of snails fed with this species were similar to those fed with the other algae. Combined, these results suggest that D. nigerrima has the ability to discriminate among seaweeds based on their nutritional quality. A potential increase in oxygen uptake when D. nigerrima is consuming the preferred food item is also proposed as a plausible hypothesis to explain the mismatch between snails’ preference and growth rate. These results aim to guide further studies on trophic subsidies and their role in coastal systems.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Agricultural and Biological Sciences