Marine Biology

, Volume 97, Issue 1, pp 45–56 | Cite as

Influence of substratum heterogeneity and settled barnacle density on the settlement of cypris larvae

  • R. Chabot
  • E. Bourget


On the Atlantic coast of Canada, Semibalanus balanoides (L.) is widely distributed in the mid-intertidal zone, whereas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, this species is mostly limited to crevices. We tested the hypothesis of regional differences in microhabitat selection by barnacle larvae at settlement in 1984 and 1985 at St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada. Since larvae settle in microhabitats already colonized by adults, the relative influence of settled barnacle density and of different scales of substratum heterogeneity on settlement were evaluated experimentally at Capucins, Québec, (Gulf of St. Lawrence) and at St. Andrews, New Brunswick (Atlantic coast). On a large scale (>10 cm deep crevices) of heterogeneity, results show that, in the Gulf, cypris larvae settled nearly exclusively (93%) in natural crevices rather than on adjacent horizontal surfaces. On the Atlantic coast, settlement was more important outside than inside of crevices, when the substrata were either natural or artificial. This result is unique and contrasts sharply with all known reports on barnacle settlement in relation to surface contour. The influence of barnacle density on settlement was greater than that of large scale heterogeneity. On a small scale (<1.5 cm deep cracks), the presence of conspecifics had a stronger effect on settlement than heterogeneity in both regions. Field observations showed a relationship between larval settlement density and percentage of adult cover. Settlement increased up to 22 or 30% (Gulf and Atlantic coast) of adult cover and decreased afterwards. The results confirm the hypothesis of larval selection for cryptic habitats in the Gulf and the opposite behaviour (preferences for horizontal surfaces) on the Atlantic coast. This microhabitat selection is apparent at large scales of heterogeneity, whereas at small scales, the presence of conspecifics is the predominant factor.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Chabot
    • 1
  • E. Bourget
    • 1
  1. 1.GIROQ, Département de biologieUniversité LavalSte-FoyCanada

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