MEPS 245:101-109 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/meps245101

Flow-induced energetic bounds to growth in an intertidal sea anemone

Bryce D. Wolcott*, Brian Gaylord

Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA
*Present address: Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720-3140, USA. Email:

ABSTRACT: General models exploring patterns of maximal size in indeterminately growing, benthic marine organisms have often focused on potential scaling limits associated with either internal energetics or external physical factors such as hydrodynamic force. Rarely, however, have these broad-strokes models considered explicitly the possibility that interactions between physiological energy balances and environmental fluid motion might alter the underlying scaling relationships. Here we examine, using simple principles of allometry, the fundamental energetics of a common intertidal sea anemone Anthopleura elegantissima in the context of the rapid flows that characterize its native habitat. We find that fluid mechanical distortion of the feeding apparatus of this species modifies the scaling of predicted energy intake across size, creating a possible mismatch with its expected metabolic requirements, and potentially placing a limit on growth. Such a limit would not be expected from standard metabolic or fluid dynamic arguments applied in isolation, reiterating the often-overlooked importance of an organism¹s structural design and its associated mechanical response to flow.


KEY WORDS: Allometry · Anthopleura elegantissima · Energetics · Hydrodynamic forces · Flow induced limits · Indeterminate growth · Maximal size · Scaling


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