The biology and functional anatomy of Modiolarca tumida (Musculus marmoratus) Bivalvia: Mytilidae



Modiolarca tumida (Hanley, 1843) is a member of the sub-family Crenellinae (Mytilidae). The preferred habitat of the species is the test of certain ascidians. The shell is dorsally flattened, which prevents it from cutting into the test during dorso-ventral contraction of the byssal retractors. The use of the byssus enables it to surround itself completely with host tissue. Adoption of the feeding posture involves the anterior-posterior contraction of the byssal retractors, which elevates the posterior margin above the host's surface using the anterior margin as the fulcrum against the host. Modiolarca tumida are attracted by the tunicin of the host, a process probably facilitated by the host's feeding currents. The smallest individuals are found round the oral aperture. Colonization of other parts of the host may result from surface migration as M. tumida can be highly mobile, crawling by means of the very extensible foot. It is during this process that individuals may be swept away in local currents and be forced to adopt a free-living existence.