Long-distance dispersal of a subantarctic brooding bivalve (Gaimardia trapesina) by kelp-rafting
- Cite this article as:
- Helmuth, B., Veit, R.R. & Holberton, R. Mar. Biol. (1994) 120: 421. doi:10.1007/BF00680216
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The probability of successful dispersal by sessile benthic invertebrates is thought to strongly influence their geographic distribution and population genetics. Generally, species with long-lived planktonic larvae are expected to exhibit wider distribution patterns than those species which brood their young, due to their presumably greater potential for dispersal. In some cases, however, brooding species exhibit broad distributions and show evidence of genetic exchange with geographically distant populations. One potential factor that has been invoked as an expianation is dispersal by floating and rafting of adults and egg masses. Several studies have shown that it is possible for sessile adults to disperse on the order of several to many thousand kilometers by rafting on debris in ocean currents. With very few exceptions, however, direct evidence of rafting in the open ocean has been lacking. We present evidence of long-distance (1300 to 2000 km) dispersal of a brooding pelecypod,Gaimardia trapesina (Lamarck, 1819), in the Southern Ocean in the vicinity of Cape Horn, the Falkland Islands, and the antarctic island South Georgia (54°S; 37°W). Data on survival and fecundity rates ofG. trapesina and the prevalence of kelp rafts collected during the austral winter of 1993 indicate that dispersal by rafting can occur over ecologically relevant time scales and could potentially serve as a significant means of genetic exchange between populations.