Hopkins Marine Station Student Paper

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(full paper is archived in the Miller Library)

Title: Acanthina punctulata (Neogastropda, Muricacea): its distribution, activity, diet, and predatory behavior
Student Author(s): Sleder, Julie
Faculty Advisor(s): Abbott, Don
Pages: 28
Location: Final Papers Biology 175H
Date: June 1979
Keywords: midtide forest community
Abstract: 1) Vertical distribution of Acanthina punctulata near Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, California, ranges from 2 to 5 feet above MLLW, with the majority of snails in the Gigartina papillata - Endocladia muricata zone, 2.5 to 4 feet above 0 tide mark. 2) Near Hopkins Marine Station, Acanthina punctulata weredistributed on 4 major substrates; rocks bearing barnacles, sandy bottomed tidepools, in and among A. elegantissima beds and among the red algae, Gigartina papillata and Endocladia muricata. 3) Activity and feeding of Acanthina punctulata at Mussel Point corresponds to a tidal cycle. At low tide, under conditions of exposure, Acanthina seeks the moisture of tidepools and A. elegantissima beds and remains relatively motionless. As the tide rises, activity increases and the snails crawl up onto the rocks and barnacles now washed or covered by the incoming tide. Feeding occurs according to the same pattern. The number of snails seen feeding increases as the tide rises and decreases and the tide falls. Of those snails feeding at low tide, a large proportion of them are feeding on prey caught during the previous high tide. 4) The field diet of Acanthina punctulata at Mussel Point includes the barnacles, Chthamalus spp. and Balanus glandula and the gastropods, Littorina planaxis and Littorina scutulata and Tegula funebralis. 5) Both field and laboratory observations on Acanthina punctulata indicate a hammering action of its tooth on the opercular opening of their barnacle prey. The obvious paralysis of the barnacle coupled with the absence of drill marks suggest the secretion of some sort of toxin through the barnacle's opercular opening. Hypobranchial gland extract has been found to have this same paralyzing effect when applied to the soft tissues or to the opercular openings of Chthamalus dalli. The spine may be used to pry open or to hold open the scutes (or the corresponding mantle flap lip) of the barnacle as poison is dripped in, or it may be used as an applicator, applying the toxin to the soft tissues or to the operculum opening of the barnacle.
Notes: Publ 1981, Veliger 24: 172-180