25.4 Wednesday, Jan. 4 How do little suspension feeders make it: larval diet and post metamorphic survivorship, growth and feeding in Crepidula fornicata. PADILLA, D.K.*; SHUMWAY, S.E.; MCCANN, M.J.; HEUPEL, E.; HOLOHAN, B.; WARD, J.E.; Stony Brook University, New York; University of Connecticut; Stony Brook University; University of Connecticut; University of Connecticut; University of Connecticut firstname.lastname@example.org
Understanding the adaptability of individuals in the face of environmental change is fundamentally important for assessing the resilience of populations and the robustness of performance. Limits on early life stages can create bottlenecks for later life stages of organisms. Aquatic invertebrates are very small at early life stages, and face hydrodynamic constraints as a function of that small size. All organisms undergo changes in size during ontogeny. Morphological and physiological systems often have size-dependent functions, i.e., all features of organisms cannot be expected to function similarly as individuals change size through ontogeny, which creates challenges for organisms with respect to metabolism and food acquisition among other functions. Suspension-feeding animals, especially molluscs, are ecologically important organisms in most aquatic habitats, provide important ecosystem functions. Their ability to suspension feed effectively, especially at a small size has been questioned due to differences between metabolic demands and energy acquisition. Performance of small individuals, especially those just past metamorphosis, thus may pose an important bottleneck for molluscan suspension feeders. We conducted experiments to test the relative importance of the larval diet on survival at metamorphosis and post metamorphic survivorship and growth in Crepidula fornicata, when individuals were allowed to feed only on suspended microalage. In addition, we used videomicroscopy to assess particle capture rates and the mechanism of suspension feeding in newly metamorphosed and juvenile animals.