DEATH IN PARADISE: MULTI-YEAR RECORDS OF PREDATION ON THE BAHAMIAN ECHINOID LEODIA
In this study, we analyzed multi-year trends in predator-prey interactions between the carnivorous snail Cassis tuberosa and the sand dollar Leodia sexiesperforata in the Bahamas (San Salvador Island). Over a five-year period (2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017), we recovered 241 denuded tests of Leodia sexiesperforata from Sand Dollar Beach. Results indicate very high drilling frequency (>90% tests drilled), with relatively consistent rates of predatory attacks over the years: 2010: 82% (N=67); 2013: 100% (N=14); 2014: 98% (N=54), 2015: 85% (N=27); and 2017: 100% (N=134). In addition, drilling patterns indicate that Cassis tuberosa shows a high preference for the oral side of the test. A number of factors may contribute to site selectivity by gastropod predators, such as specific attack or grappling methods, targeting locations on the test that are easier to penetrate, or access to high energetic value tissues. The overall results suggest that predation by cassids may be a persistent source of mortality and can produce an identifiable fossil record of these intense predator-prey interactions.