Settlement behavior of Chthamalus anisopoma larvae largely determines the adult distribution
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In the northern Gulf of California the adult distribution of the intertidal barnacle species, Chthamalus anisopoma, on exposed shores is approximately between 0.0 and 2.0 m above mean low water (MLW). The species is typically absent in protected (from wave splash) areas. In this study, I examined a series of alternative hypotheses relating to the factors that could be responsible for limiting the distribution. Post-settlement factors appear to be unimportant because settlement was largely restricted to areas within the adult distribution. Two processes could account for the high correlation between settlement and adult distributions. First, hydrodynamic factors could restrict deposition of larvae to sites that coincidently were in areas in which individuals could survive to maturity. Second, larvae may choose to settle only on sites where they can survive to maturity. Of the two, the later was supported as settlement could be induced on surfaces outside the adult distribution using transplanted adult conspecifics as cues. Thus, competent larvae were present outside the adult distribution of Chthamalus zone but did not settle under normal conditions. Also, there was no evidence that pre-emption of space by other sessile species, by itself, restricted the distribution of Chthamalus. Settlement within the existing adult distribution may be an evolutionary response to increased mortality for individuals settling outside the adult distribution compared to those settling within it.
Key wordsChthamalus anisopoma Distribution Settlement Recruitment Gulf of California
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