Feeding mechanisms (invertebrate)
Dales, R. Phillips Department of Zoology, Bedford College, London, United Kingdom.
Last reviewed:December 2020
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- Suspension feeders
- Setose appendages
- Ciliary mechanisms
- Mucous bag
- Deposit feeders
- Related Primary Literature
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The means by which an invertebrate obtains and utilizes food materials. The feeding methods of invertebrates are as diverse as the invertebrates themselves, which are adapted to all kinds of habitats, including those in freshwater, in the sea, and on land. The feeding mechanisms are best classified by the method used: browsing, suspension feeding, deposit feeding, carnivorous, and phytophagous (plant-eating). An alternative classification often adopted, but perhaps less satisfactory, may be based on the size of particles ingested. Thus, the same invertebrate may be described either as microphagous (feeding on minute organisms) or as dependent on substances in solution. Both classification schemes may be further subdivided. Carnivorous feeders, for example, include predators and animal parasites; both share dependence on other (living) animals as a food source. Some methods will be restricted to particular habitats. For example, suspension feeders (Fig. 1) can only be aquatic, whereas phytophagous invertebrates may be found wherever edible plants occur. See also: Digestion; Food
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