Food Selection by Consumers

  • Ivan Valiela
Part of the Springer Advanced Texts in Life Sciences book series (SATLIFE)


In the last chapter we focused on the importance of food quantity. It turns out, however, that not only abundance but quality of food items must be considered. Moreover, even though there may be sufficient abundance of food items of adequate quality, they may not be easily vulnerable to predators. In this chapter we take up the quality and availability of food particles. First, we need to consider the cues used by consumers in finding and selecting food of appropriate quality and the role of properties of the food and consumer, particularly size and chemical makeup, in food choice. We then consider the relative vulnerability of food items, mainly in reference to the morphology of prey and the physical structure of the habitat. Last, we consider consequences of food selection, especially in regard to stability of prey populations.


Salt Marsh Food Item Prey Density Prey Population Large Prey 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. A curious and unusual feeding pattern is for a predator to attack prey of similar size to itself but to eat only a portion of the prey. Examples of this are typhloscolecid polychaetes feeding on heads of chetognaths (Feigenbaum, 1979) and young flatfish feeding on the siphons of bivalves (Trevallion et al., 1970). In both cases, the prey survive and regenerate the lost parts.Google Scholar
  2. † Jacobs (1974) and Cock (1978) assess Ivlev’s electivity index and suggest modifications.Google Scholar
  3. A survey of knowledge on marine insects is given in Cheng (1976).Google Scholar
  4. Similar relationships have been proposed in models of zooplankton grazers (Lam and Frost, 1976; Lehman, 1976). Taghon et al. (1978) and Doyle (1979) extend these models to benthic animals feeding on particles of sediment, where the food is the microflora growing on the sediment particles.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ivan Valiela
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Marine Biological LaboratoryBoston University Marine ProgramWoods HoleUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyBoston UniversityBostonUSA

Personalised recommendations