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We studied the effect of crustacean predators on native/non-native Macoma balthica bivalves in aquarium experiments. North Sea M. balthica (NS Macoma) were recently observed in the southern Baltic Sea. They differ genetically and in terms of morphology, behaviour and evolutionary history from Baltic Sea M. balthica (BS Macoma), and this may affect predation pressure and community structure. We hypothesised that predators consume more of the prey they co-exist with. NS Macoma and BS Macoma were exposed to crustacean predators common in the North Sea (Carcinus maenas and Crangon crangon) and in the Baltic Sea (C. crangon and Saduria entomon). Contrary to our hypotheses, the North Sea predators ate more BS Macoma, and S. entomon ate more NS Macoma. The crush-limited C. maenas preyed more on globular BS Macoma, whereas S. entomon, which do not crush but pry open the bivalve shell, ate more NS Macoma, which have a lighter (thus probably thinner) shell than BS Macoma. When NS and BS Macoma were offered together, BS Crangon ate more NS Macoma. We also studied BS Crangon consumption of M. balthica to assess whether sizes offered fall within the size spectrum that C. crangon can eat. Small (20 to 40 mm long), medium (40 to 50 mm) and large (50 to 60 mm) C. crangon especially ate small M. balthica. Differences in shape, size and meat/shell weight ratio between the BS and NS Macoma partly explained the differences in the susceptibility to predation by native and non-native predators.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAquatic Biology
Journal publication date2009

ID: 368578