Marine Biology

, Volume 156, Issue 9, pp 1881–1890 | Cite as

What do caprellids (Crustacea: Amphipoda) feed on?

  • José Manuel Guerra-GarcíaEmail author
  • José Manuel Tierno de Figueroa
Original Paper


The present study represents the first comprehensive work dealing with the dietary analysis of Caprellidea. We studied 743 specimens of 31 genera and 62 species from all around the world. Analysis of digestive contents revealed that caprellids are mainly detritivores (detritus represented the 86% of the caprellid diet), but a small percentage of species, those lacking molars belonging to the Phtisicinae, can be considered as obligate predators and feed mainly on small crustaceans (copepods and other amphipods) and polychaetes. The contribution of sponges, hydroids, macroalgae, diatoms and dinoflagellates to the caprellid diet was very low (<2%). Apart from the clear relationship between the absence of molar process and predators, no other correlations between digestive contents and mouthpart structure were found. Cluster analysis based on the dietary data indicated a patent segregation between the Phtisicinae (obligate predators) and Caprellinae (detritivores, detritivores/predators or opportunistics) and could support the hypothesis of basal divergence in two major lines of evolution: Phtisicinae and Caprogammaridae–Caprellinae. Consequently, the debate questioning if the taxon Caprellidea is a monophyletic group or not is still open. Additional morphological, molecular and behavioral studies are necessary to define the evolutionary relationships in this group of crustaceans.


Sponge Detritus Macroalgae Dinoflagellate Polychaete 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Financial support of this work was provided by the Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia (Project CGL2007-60044/BOS) co-financed by FEDER funds, and by the Consejería de Innovación, Ciencia y Empresa, Junta de Andalucía (Project P07-RNM-02524). Special thanks to Dr. Manuel Jesús López-Rodríguez for his help during the processing of the samples and for the English revision of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • José Manuel Guerra-García
    • 1
    Email author
  • José Manuel Tierno de Figueroa
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Biología Marina, Departamento de Fisiología y Zoología, Facultad de BiologíaUniversidad de SevillaSevillaSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Biología Animal, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de GranadaGranadaSpain

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