Marine Biology

, Volume 56, Issue 4, pp 301–310 | Cite as

Effects of Polinices duplicatus (Gastropoda: Naticidae) on infaunal community structure at Barnstable Harbor, Massachusetts, USA

  • W. I. Wiltse


Effects of the predatory naticid snail Polinices duplicatus (Say) on species composition, diversity and density, of the infauna of intertidal sand-flats at Barnstable Harbor, Massachusetts, USA, were studied using field experiments. Responses of molluscs (prey of P. duplicatus) and nonmolluscs (nonprey) were considered separately to distinguish between the effects of feeding and sediment disturbance during foraging. The fauna of 0.25 m2 predator-exclusion cages, coarse-mesh cages, sieved areas, and controls was followed for 1 yr. Species associations within cages from which predators were excluded were denser, more diverse, and richer in molluscs than those in other treatments. Larger areas (3×3 m) of natural bottom were fenced and maintained as snail exclosures and enclosures during two feeding seasons. For both molluscs and nonmolluscs, diversity (H'), number of species, evenness (SD), and density all decreased with increasing snail density. Intense predation pressure on molluscs and selective feeding on thin-shelled bivalves, which were rare, removed individuals and species of molluscs from the community. Comparison of samples taken inside and outside trails made by snails showed that disturbance of the surface sediment layers by snails decreased the abundance of spionid polychaetes and total nonmolluscs. The sipunculan Phascolopsis gouldi and the bivalve Gemma gemma dominated the community in all experimental treatments and were little affected by the activity of Polinices duplicatus. Predation and disturbance by snails lowered community diversity by removing individuals of the less abundant species, and generally maintained population densities below the level where strong competition would occur.


Bivalve Polychaete Gastropoda Selective Feeding Snail Density 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. I. Wiltse
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA

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