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The salt marsh periwinkle, Littorina irrorata, exhibits a spatial refuge from predation by climbing the stems of Spartina alterniflora in order to avoid benthic predators. Salt marsh periwinkles have a broad geographic distribution, and for many species, responses to predators also varies with biogeography. This study sought to determine if the geographical location of the home marsh influenced the response of periwinkles (climbing height) to blue crab predator cues both via air and water. Snails from Louisiana (LA) climbed higher in general than those from North Carolina (NC), regardless of chemical cue. However, LA snails climbed 11cm higher in the presence of waterborne predators than control snails with no cue, while NC snails only climbed 5cm higher in the same comparisons. Airborne chemical cue tended to have snails climbing at intermediate heights. These responses were significantly enhanced when both populations of snails were housed together. Periwinkle response to predator cues was stronger in LA than NC, and so it is possible that the behavioral response of these snails to predators varies with biogeography of the home marsh. Also interestingly, the results of this study also suggest that cue delivery is probably occurring via mechanisms other than water, and potentially via airborne cues. Therefore, salt marsh periwinkles likely respond to numerous cues that initiate behavioral responses, including airborne cues, and these responses may vary by home-marsh geography.
This is a submission to PeerJ for review.
Periwinkle experiment raw data
Raw data of snail climbing heights in the presence or absence of predator chemical cues. Sheet 1 is the metadata, highlighting the collection locations, cue types and height descriptions. Sheet 2 is the data from the single population experiments, and Sheet 3 is the mixed population treatments.
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