Quantifying individual feeding variability: implications for mollusc feeding experiments

Hanley, M.E, Bulling, M.T and Fenner, M. (2003) Quantifying individual feeding variability: implications for mollusc feeding experiments. Functional Ecology, 17, (5), 673-679. (doi:10.1046/j.1365-2435.2003.00779.x).


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1. In order to quantify the level of variability in seedling consumption displayed by individual molluscs, we placed one snail (Helix aspersa) in each of 51 trays containing (7-day-old) Taraxacum officinale seedlings for 7 days.
2. Initially, individual snails displayed considerable variability in their consumption of seedlings; however, this variability declined with time. The consumption of seedlings was not related to individual snail mass.
3. A second grazing experiment, using five different snail densities in similar experimental conditions to the first, showed that increasing snail number reduced variability within treatment groups.
4. A computer simulation, based on data from the first experiment correctly predicted the basic form of the decline in feeding variability with increasing snail density found in the second. Post hoc changes to the model, based on empirical analysis of the second experiment to account for mutual interference, reduced discrepancies between empirical and model results.

5. This study highlights the consequences that individual feeding behaviour has on feeding trials with molluscs, and provides a simple method by which this variability can be quantified and accommodated within experimental design.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1046/j.1365-2435.2003.00779.x
ISSNs: 0269-8463 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: feeding variability, Gini coefficient, Helix aspersa, seedling herbivory, slug-plant interactions, cepea-memoralis, deroceras-reticulatum, abutilon-theophrasti, seedling recruitment, arion lustianicus, palatability
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Biological Sciences
ePrint ID: 24019
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
17 June 2003Published
14 February 2003Submitted
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2006
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 11:45
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/24019

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