High-frequency observations of early-stage larval abundance: do storms trigger synchronous larval release in Semibalanus balanoides?
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The acorn barnacle, Semibalanus balanoides, is thought to release larvae in response to phytoplankton blooms, but there is evidence that another, unidentified cue for release may exist. We conducted high-frequency sampling in Little Harbor, Massachusetts, USA, to determine whether early-stage larval abundance was related to several environmental variables, and to characterize vertical distributions of the larvae. Larval concentrations peaked at 2.52 and 1.02 individuals l−1 during two storms. Larvae were more abundant near the surface than near the bottom. We suggest the hypothesis that turbid conditions and upward-swimming behavior may protect newly-released larvae from predation and cannibalism. Future studies should test this hypothesis with barnacles and other invertebrates.
KeywordsHigh Turbidity Surf Zone Winter Storm Larval Abundance Larval Release
We are grateful to our field assistants, especially Luc Mehl, Michael Holcomb, Erin Banning, and Christopher Waters for their help with the high-frequency plankton sampling. We would like to thank Elizabeth Gardner for allowing us access to her dock for sampling. We also thank Drs. Victoria Starczak, Kristen Davis, and Molly Jacobs for their helpful comments during the preparation of this manuscript. Support for this work came from a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and a student award from the Coastal Ocean Institute at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (both to JG). We thank three anonymous reviewers for comments that improved this manuscript. Our experiments and sample collections comply with the laws and regulations of the United States of America and the State of Massachusetts.
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