. 277 THE ADVERSE EFFECTS OF SHELL INGESTION FOR MOLLUSCIVOROUS CICHLIDS, A CONSTRUCTIONAL MORPHOLOGICAL APPROACH by R. J. C. HOOGERHOUD (Research-Group Ecological Morphology, Haplochromis Ecology Survey Team -HEST-, Zoölogisch Laboratorium, Rijksuniversiteit Leiden, Postbus 9516, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands) SUMMARY Among the many food resources exploited by cichlids, molluscs are exceptional because they are enclosed in a shell of hard, dense and indigestible material. This study investigates some of the implications of this for prey processing in Astatoreochromis alluaudi, one of many cichlid species which crush the shell of their prey between their pharyngeal jaws. These so-called pharyngeal mollusc crushers were believed to ingest together with the molluscs flesh the entire, crushed shell. However, my study revealed that they eject shell fragments before ingesting their prey. The amount of mollusc shell ejected by A. alluaudi depends on the type and size of the mollusc and the size of the fish. The percentage of shell ejected increases with prey size and decreases with predator size for all prey species. More shell of gastropods than of bivalves is ejected. Shell fragments are ejected because shell ingestion affects (1) the buoyancy of the fish and (2) the space available for food
Netherlands Journal of Zoology (in 2003 continued as Animal Biology) – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1986
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