Intraguild predation by shore crabs affects mortality, behavior, growth, and densities of California horn snails

TitleIntraguild predation by shore crabs affects mortality, behavior, growth, and densities of California horn snails
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsLorda J., Hechinger R.F, Cooper S.D, Kuris A.M, Lafferty K.D
Date Published2016/05
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number2150-8925
Accession NumberWOS:000377215200010
KeywordsBaja California; California horn snail; cascade; Cerithidea californica =; cerithidea-californica; Cerithideopsis californica; coexistence estuaries; communities; field evidence; food-web; Hemigrapsus; hemigrapsus-oregonensis; Intertidal; intraguild predation; mediated indirect interactions; oregonensis; Pachygrapsus crassipes; reproduction; salt-marsh; shore crabs; size

The California horn snail, Cerithideopsis californica, and the shore crabs, Pachygrapsus crassipes and Hemigrapsus oregonensis, compete for epibenthic microalgae, but the crabs also eat snails. Such intraguild predation is common in nature, despite models predicting instability. Using a series of manipulations and field surveys, we examined intraguild predation from several angles, including the effects of stage-dependent predation along with direct consumptive and nonconsumptive predator effects on intraguild prey. In the laboratory, we found that crabs fed on macroalgae, snail eggs, and snails, and the size of consumed snails increased with predator crab size. In field experiments, snails grew less in the presence of crabs partially because snails behaved differently and were buried in the sediment (nonconsumptive effects). Consistent with these results, crab and snail abundances were negatively correlated in three field surveys conducted at three different spatial scales in estuaries of California, Baja California, and Baja California Sur: (1) among 61 sites spanning multiple habitat types in three estuaries, (2) among the habitats of 13 estuaries, and (3) among 34 tidal creek sites in one estuary. These results indicate that shore crabs are intraguild predators on California horn snails that affect snail populations via predation and by influencing snail behavior and performance.

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