Review of chromodorid feeding

July 21, 2007
From: Bill Rudman

You must have not been paying attention if you didn't know I had a particular interest in discovering just which species of sponge each chromodorid species ate. Using the valuable contributions of Forum participants over the last 10 years, Prof. Pat Bergquist and I have just published a paper reviewing all that is known on this topic, including new information on over 100 species. I have tried to email a pdf to every contributor who provided new information in messages to the Forum, but a few email addresses have changed. So if you haven't received a copy and are interested in receiving one, please let me know. I plan to gradually add the food items eaten by each species to the relevant Fact Sheets.

  • Rudman, W. B. & Bergquist, P. R. (2007) A review of feeding specificity in the sponge-feeding Chromodorididae (Nudibranchia: Mollusca). Molluscan Research, 27(2): 60-88

This paper contains new feeding information on 108 species of the sponge-feeding chromodorid nudibranchs and re-evaluates published information for 63 species. The combined information for 137 species shows a clear pattern of food specificity, at both the species and genus levels. New feeding information on the related Actinocyclidae is also presented. Species of Chromodoris and related genera prefer darwinellids; Hypselodoris and its relatives feed on dysideids, and Glossodoris feed exclusively on thorectids. The 'basal' genera, Cadlina, Cadlinella are less specialised but both they and species of the anatomically similar family Actinocyclidae seem linked by their common choice of Halisarca. Exceptions to the pattern suggest the genus Chromodoris is polyphyletic. The evolution of feeding in the Chromodorididae is discussed, and the patterns of food specificity are shown to strongly support prevailing hypotheses on chromodorid evolution. Recent taxonomic studies within the sponge orders Dictyoceratida and Dendroceratida have been essential to this study, enabling the re-identification of many of the food sponges, and the use of marker secondary metabolites in both the nudibranchs and their sponge prey.

Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2007 (Jul 21) Review of chromodorid feeding. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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