, Volume 95, Issue 4, pp 531-537

Effect of limpets on the fouling of ships in the Mediterranean

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Limpets reduce the cover of algae and barnacles on intertidal rocks, but do not inhabit ship-fouling communities. Patella caerulea (L.) from Israeli Mediterranean shores were successfully transplanted onto 20x20 cm initially non-fouled steel panels in 1983–1984, hung vertically in a commercial port at depths of 1 and 5.5 m. The limpets (15 individuals of ca 20 to 25 cm in length on each panel) controlled the fouling organisms that settled on the panels throughout a month of lowest settlement (December) and throughout a month of highest settlement (August). After 7 d of immersion the limpets restricted the total cover of fouling organisms from 2.4 and 4.8% to 0.6 and 0.2% (at 1 and 5.5 m depths, respectively), and brought down the barnacle density from 1.2 and 2.6 to 0.3 and 0.4 individuals per cm2 (at 1 and 5.5 m depth, respectively). After 26 d the equivalent figures were a cover of 72 and 92% reduced to 14 and 9% and a density of 2.9 and 1.1 reduced to 0.3 and 0.2 individuals per cm2. The limpets presumably achieved this by preventing the attachment of propagules and by removing already settled organisms through their movements during grazing excursions.

Communicated by O. Kinne, Oldendorf/Luhe