The diet and functional biology of the digestive system of the cephalaspidean gastropod Haminoea orbygniana was investigated by gut content analysis of animals collected in the Ria Formosa, a coastal lagoon in southern Portugal. The results show that this species is herbivorous, stenophagic and probably non-selective, feeding mainly on diatoms (67·61%) and occasionally on vegetal detritus (4·16%) and Foraminifera (0·04%), but also including sand grains as an important part of the gut contents (28·34%). The role of the gizzard plates in the fragmentation of diatom frustules was demonstrated and is discussed. Data reveal that this process, although possibly important for the digestion and assimilation of food, seems not to be crucial. The role of sand as an additional food source and as an accessory tool complementary to the gizzard plates is discussed. A general review of the diet within the family Haminoeidae is presented, with all recent work indicating that they feed on diatoms and green algae.
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