MEPS - Vol. 349 - Feature article

Sea stars Pisaster ochraceus feeding on mussels at Strawberry Hill, Oregon. Photo: E. Sanford

Sanford E, Menge BA

 

Reproductive output and consistency of source populations in the sea star Pisaster ochraceus

 

A common goal in marine reserve design is to identify and protect reproductive source populations that may repopulate surrounding areas through larval export. However, few studies have tested whether source populations are predictable and consistent. In a 6 year study, Sanford & Menge quantified the reproductive output of the sea star Pisaster ochraceus, a keystone predator on rocky shores. Despite oceanographic variation among years, sea stars at one site had consistently greater per capita reproductive output. Surprisingly, this was a site where sea stars fed on low quality prey (barnacles) and accumulated little nutrient reserves. These results suggest that certain populations may be consistent sources of larvae, but identifying these sources requires an understanding of energy allocation.

 

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