Feeding mechanisms (invertebrate)
Dales, R. Phillips Department of Zoology, Bedford College, London, United Kingdom.
Last reviewed:August 2015
- Suspension feeders
- Deposit feeders
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The mechanisms 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, 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. Suspension feeders, for example, can only be aquatic, while the phytophagous habit may be found wherever edible plants occur. The feeding mechanisms employed will depend, at least partly, on the habit and habitat of the plants utilized.
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