Original Paper

Marine Biology

, Volume 157, Issue 12, pp 2783-2789

First online:

Effects of crowding and wave exposure on penis morphology of the acorn barnacle, Semibalanus balanoides

  • J. Matthew HochAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook UniversitySoutheast Environmental Research Center, Florida International University Email author 

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Wave action and low population density can strongly reduce the ability of sessile acorn barnacles to find mates and copulate. For Semibalanus balanoides, penis morphology varies with wave exposure and with characteristics of the mating neighborhood. Field experiments were conducted at five intertidal sites on Long Island, New York, USA from July to December 2005 to determine how wave exposure and aggregation structure influence the length, diameter, mass, and number of annulated folds of the penis. Sparsely crowded barnacles had more annulations in the penis and are inferred to have greater ability to stretch. At higher wave exposure, the diameter of the penis was greater, but the mass was not. This study identifies density of crowding as the most important cue that barnacles respond to when perceiving their mating group and details how penis morphology varies in response to wave exposure.