Reassessment of the trophic position of Bullidae (Gastropoda: Cephalaspidea) and the importance of diet in the evolution of cephalaspidean gastropods


  • Editor: Jean-Nicolas Volff

Manuel António E. Malaquias, Department of Zoology, Natural History Museum, London SW7 5BD, UK.


A review of the available data on the diet of species of Bullidae is presented. Their trophic level is reassessed through gut content analysis of worldwide species from various habitats. Gut contents were identified by light and scanning electron microscopy. The previous claims of omnivory and carnivory were not supported. Worldwide species of Bullidae feed preferentially on algae and secondarily on diatoms, and are therefore herbivorous. The influence of dietary specialization on the evolution of cephalaspidean gastropods was assessed by superimposing the diet onto a molecular family-level phylogeny. Herbivory was found to be the plesiomorphic condition, with carnivory having arisen independently two or three times. This evidence suggests that dietary specialization has played a major role in the adaptive radiation of the group.