Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 August 2004
Argopecten purpuratus was exposed to two different diets which reflected short term variations in quantity and quality of the natural food supply typical in bays of southern Chile. No significant differences of clearance rate were observed over different time periods at either of two food concentrations. The scallop reduced its clearance rate significantly when it was exposed to the higher food concentration. Pseudofaeces production occurred only at this high diet and the time factor had no significant effect on this process. The organic content of pseudofaeces was significantly lower than the organic content of the food, suggesting a pre-ingestive selection mechanism. Based on this capacity for particle selection, A. purpuratus was able to compensate for the differences in food quality of the experimental diets and ingesting particulate material containing 38% organic matter as a result of the selection process when fed at the higher food concentration. Absorption efficiency was lower following exposure to the high food concentration, suggesting that the experimental time of 72 h was not sufficient to acclimate the digestive response to a food supply significantly different from that of its habitat of origin. Phytoplankton form the principal nutritional source for this epibenthic species, and resuspended detritus, although occurring in large quantities, may only be of importance once digestive processes become acclimated to processing them.