Size Selective Predation by the Asteroid Pisaster ochraceus on the Bivalve Mytilus calif ornianus: A Cost‐Benefit Analysis

Academic Article


  • Abstract. When simultaneously presented with equal numbers of four sizes of clumped Mytilus californianus (20, 35, 55 and 85 mm shell length), Pisaster ochraceus (arm length of 70‐110mm R) showed a preference for the medium sizes (35 and 55mm length). Prey‐size preference was positively correlated with predator size. Mean prey‐digestion times (insertion of the stomach, opening of the valves and digestive period) decreased significantly following fiiing of an artificial gape between the valves of mussels. When presented with different sizes of clumped filed mussels, starfish still chose medium mussels, indicating that stomach insertion, valve opening, and digestion rate may not be important constraints determining size selective predation. Measurements of the force required to dislodge mussels from the substratum and conspecifics showed an increasing exponential relationship with mussel size. Size selective feeding may be an energy maximizing and time minimizing strategy, where energy gained from choosing larger mussels is balanced against disproportionately increased costs in energy and time of removing large mussels from the substratum. Copyright © 1986, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved
  • Published In

  • Marine Ecology  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Mcclintock JB; Robnett TJ
  • Start Page

  • 321
  • End Page

  • 332
  • Volume

  • 7
  • Issue

  • 4