MEPS 324:185-196 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/meps324185

Biological and physical coupling in the lee of a small headland: contrasting transport mechanisms for crab larvae in an upwelling region

Amber J. Mace*, Steven G. Morgan

Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California at Davis, PO Box 247, Bodega Bay, California 94923, USA

ABSTRACT: Delivery mechanisms for crab postlarvae along upwelling coasts have been inferred from weekly sampling, but more frequent sampling is needed to better relate highly variable oceanographic conditions to postlarval supply. Settlement of 8 crab taxa was measured in Bodega Bay, California every 2 d from 12 May through 3 July, 2002. Abundance of postlarval and juvenile settlers was cross-correlated with physical variables. Four upwelling and 4 relaxation events were recorded as fluctuations in wind stress and sea temperature during this period. Transitions to and from upwelling conditions in Bodega Bay were brief and temperature changes occurred rapidly. The strongest correlations between crab abundance and physical variables indicative of upwelling and relaxation conditions were observed for Cancer magister, which settled primarily during relaxation-favorable conditions, and for Cancer antennarius/ productus, which settled primarily during upwelling-favorable conditions, suggesting interspecific differences in delivery of postlarvae to adult habitat. Weak correlations with upwelling-favorable conditions were observed for Pugettia producta/ richii and Pagurus spp. Settlement of Hemigrapsus nudus, Petrolisthes cinctipes, and P. eriomerus exhibited significant correlations with changes in tidal height. These results highlight the existence of multiple taxon-specific delivery mechanisms of closely related taxa in one small geographic region.

KEY WORDS: Headland · Larval retention · Meroplankton · Larval dispersal

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