Interactions between the leech Glossiphonia complanata and its gastropod prey

Research paper by Christer Brönmark, Björn Malmqvist

Indexed on: 01 May '86Published on: 01 May '86Published in: Oecologia


Predator-prey interactions between the predatory leech, Glossiphonia complanata, and its gastropod prey were investigated in laboratory experiments, including behavioural observations with the aid of time-lapse video technique. Six gastropod species were investigated, viz. Lymnaea peregra, Planorbis planorbis, Physa fontinalis, Ancylus fluviatilis, Bithynia tentaculata, and Theodoxus fluviatilis. The species studied exhibited anti-predator defences, which had their maximum efficiency at different stages of encounter with G. complanata. The activity of B. tentaculata decreased with increasing leech activity, but was relatively higher when food was present than when not. Handling times were dependent on the time elapsed since the previous meal was captured (intercatch interval), which in turn was related to the size of the previous prey. Handling time was also related to the size of both predator and prey. The capture efficiency was high for small prey and the leeches spent more time in patches with higher yield. They were, however, unable to discriminate between patches of different prey density.