Effects of barnacle epibionts on the periwinkle Littorina littorea (L.)
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In a sandy bay with mussel beds in the Wadden Sea (Island of Sylt, eastern North Sea), periwinkles Littorina littorea (L.) were often strongly overgrown with the barnacle Balanus crenatus Bruguière in the lower intertidal zone. Consequences of this epibiosis on mobility, reproduction and mortalityof the snail were examined. B. crenatus growing on L. littorea increased snail volume up to 4-fold and weight up to 3.5-fold and crawling speed of fouled L. littorea was significantly slowed down. The epibiotic structure also caused a decrease in reproductive output. In laboratory experiments, egg production of fouled L. littorea was significantly lower than in snails free of barnacles. Presumably, copulation of the periwinkles is hampered by the voluminous and prickly cover of barnacles. Field studies demonstrated an increased mortality of overgrown L. littorea. A decrease in reproductive output and a lower survival of snails with a cover of barnacles suggest that B. crenatus epibionts may have a significant impact on the population of L. littorea.