July 24, 2007
From: Graham Abbott
Concerning message #19296:
I've recently noticed some other interesting behaviours of nudibranchs in relation to Roboastra luteolineolata. Have you ever heard of other nudibranchs sensing the trail left behind by nudibranchs and swimming off? I watched as a Tambja morosa, slowly went on it's way and went over the new path of the R. luteolineolata and alarmingly swam away as soon it touched the area where the R. luteolineolata had been. Can you please let me know if this is common behaviour?
firstname.lastname@example.orgAbbott, G., 2007 (Jul 24) Re: Roboastra luteolineata - Feeding behaviour!. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/20283
This is a very interesting observation. There haven't been many studies on species of Roboastra, but the few that exist are focussed on the feeding behaviour of the predator - what prey does it choose, how does it sense its prey and how does it attack and eat it. These predators can certainly identify their prey from the mucous trail they leave. Megina & Cervera (2003) on their report on Roboastra europaea mention that one of its prey items, Tambja ceutae, has a spectacular defensive response when it touched a Roboastra or was touched by one. It would immediately and vigorously begin undulating its body and swim away. From your description Tambja morosa can identify some chemical in the mucous trail of R. luteolineata as a warning of immediate danger, and so elicit the same escape response. I can't say whether the animal you observed has learnt to do that from past experience or whether it is an instinctive reaction.
It definitely a research project for a student who wants to escape to warm waters for a while.
Megina, C. and Cervera, J. L. (2003) Diet, prey selection, and cannibalism in the hunter opisthobranch Roboastra europaea. Journal of the marine biological Association, U.K. 83: 489-495
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