We tested particle selection by a surface deposit-feeding, tentaculate spionid polychaete, Pseudopolydora kempi japonica Imajima and Hartman. In experiments with peroxide-cleaned, sizegraded but otherwise natural silts and sands, individual worms showed peak preference for particles 80-99 μm in diameter, compared with previous (Self and Jumars, 1988) documentation of peak preference for particles of 7 μm in experiments conducted with plastic and glass beads. These results imply that microtektites will not in general be good tracers of mixing of mineral grains of comparable size. Animals exhibited statistically significant but not marked differences in size selectivity for subrounded versus subangular grain shapes; the size preference peak was broader in subangular grains, for which orientation of the grain can alter probabilities of both contact and retention. When one size class of grains was coated with the bacterium Halomonas halodurans (ATCC 29686), animals in general showed enhanced selection (relative to controls with no food value on any size class) of that size and smaller grains, even though these smaller grains lacked food value. Greatest selection, however, generally occurred for the coated size class. Results from inclusion of glass beads in some of the experiments and from separate experiments with tentacle analogs imply that this selective capability may be largely passive and mechanical. Natural grains, due to surface texture, have more surface area for adhesive contact than do smooth glass beads so that larger grains than beads are retained. Bacteria-coated grains, in turn, appear to be picked up preferentially due to adhesion with the bacterial coating; petroleum jelly-coated microscope slides also succeed in selective retention of the size class that is bacterially coated. Substantial selection by adhesive-utilizing deposit feeders apparently can be achieved without investment in complex, time- and energy-consuming sensory systems and behaviors. Experiments with natural grains showed notably more scatter than prior experiments with glass beads, but this difference is consistent with the mechanism. For nonspherical particles, both contact and retention depend on orientation as well as size.
Guieb, Ruben A., Peter A. Jumars, and Robert F. Self. 2004. "Adhesive-based selection by a tentacle-feeding polychaete for particle size, shape and bacterial coating in silt and sand." Journal of Marine Research 62, (2). https://elischolar.library.yale.edu/journal_of_marine_research/44