Hostname: page-component-797576ffbb-58z7q Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-12-04T17:52:58.222Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

Influence of alternative shell-drilling behaviours on attack duration of the predatory snail, Chicoreus dilectus

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 January 2005

Gregory P. Dietl
Center for Marine Science, University of North Carolina, Wilmington, NC 28409, U.S.A.
Gregory S. Herbert
Department of Geology and Center for Population Biology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, U.S.A. Present address: G. S. Herbert, Department of Geology, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620, U.S.A.
Get access


Edge drilling is a form of predation in which a predatory snail excavates a hole at a point along the margin of the closed valves of a bivalved animal. We tested the hypothesis that edge-drilling attacks by the predatory snail Chicoreus dilectus on its clam prey Chione elevata shorten the duration of the predation process relative to the alternative behaviour of drilling through the prey's shell wall away from its edges. The time required to complete an edge-drilling attack was on average about three times less than when prey were attacked through the shell wall. This improvement in predation speed was a function of the thickness of the prey's shell at the point of attack. We suggest that owing to the shorter length of time required to kill prey, the edge-drilling behaviour may be selectively advantageous in environments where enemies are abundant, especially competitors that might attempt to steal prey. Behaviours that speed up the predation process may create opportunities for more effective exploitation of available prey resources in highly competitive environments.

Research Article
2005 The Zoological Society of London

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)