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Haliotis tuberculata , a generalist marine herbivore that prefers a mixed diet, but with consistent individual foraging activity
While population foraging behaviour of herbivores has been extensively studied, individual choice is still poorly understood. Because marine ectotherms are strongly influenced by their environment and because a mixed diet is appropriate for herbivores, we hypothesized that Haliotis tuberculata, a large marine gastropod, would not exhibit significant individual consistency in foraging activity and would display generalist food choices. To test these hypotheses, the behaviour of 120 abalone was studied using a choice test of eight macroalgal species (Asparagopsis armata, Palmaria palmata, Enteromorpha intestinalis, Ulva lactuca, Saccharina latissima, Saccorhyza polyschides, Laminaria digitata and stipes of Laminaria hyperborea). Adult Haliotis tuberculata, reared during 4 years in sea-cage structure were transported to a land-based laboratory. Once in the laboratory, eight abalone were randomly assigned to each experimental tank (n= 15 tanks in total). A reflective tag was glued to each individual to allow us to recognize each individual abalone. Foraging activity and food choice was determined for each individual over 3-weeks, with video recording 24 hours a day.
intraclass correlation, proportion similarity index, food choice, marine herbivore, foraging activity, mollusc, individual consistency
48.612778N, 48.612778S, -4.558333E, -4.558333W