Particle Capture by a Pacific Brittle Star: Experimental Test of the Aerosol Suspension Feeding Model

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Science  22 Sep 1978:
Vol. 201, Issue 4361, pp. 1147-1149
DOI: 10.1126/science.201.4361.1147


Ophiopholis aculeata, a suspension feeding brittle star, is capable of removing artificial particles from seawater by some mechanism or mechanisms other than sieving; the animal can capture a finite proportion of particles in all size classes available from at least 30 to 360 micrometers in diameter. A marked shift in the size distribution of particles caught by the animal toward larger particle sizes agrees with predictions derived from aerosol filtration theory. Adhesion of particles to the tube feet is strongly dependent on the presence of fixed charged groups on the surface of the particles.