MEPS 425:103-112 (2011)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08969

Weak synchrony in the timing of larval release in upwelling regimes

Steven G. Morgan1,2,*, J. Wilson White1,5, Skyli T. McAfee1,6, Steven D. Gaines3,4, Russell J. Schmitt3,5

1Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California Davis, 2099 Westside Drive, Bodega Bay, California 94923-0247, USA
2Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California Davis, 1 Shields Avenue, Davis, California 93510, USA
3Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, University of California Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA
4Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA
5Present address: Department of Biology and Marine Biology, University of North Carolina, 601 South College Road, Wilmington, North Carolina 28403-5915, USA
6Present address:
California Ocean Science Trust, 1330 Broadway, Suite 1135, Oakland, California 94612, USA

ABSTRACT: Intertidal crabs in diverse habitats worldwide release larvae synchronously during nocturnal spring high tides. This expedites seaward transport of the larvae to beyond high density areas of predatory fishes under the cover of darkness. We found that 4 species of intertidal crabs along the west coast of the USA shared this reproductive timing pattern. As in other mixed semidiurnal tidal regimes, biweekly patterns of larval release were more closely synchronized with the tidal amplitude cycle than the lunar cycle, and some crabs released larvae in daylight. However, unlike other places in the world, larval release was weakly synchronized to environmental cycles regardless of interspecific differences in vertical distributions on the shore. We provide evidence that weak synchrony in the timing of larval release in upwelling regimes can result from exposure to environmental variation over long incubation periods of externally brooded embryos. According to the prevailing paradigm, weaker synchrony in the timing of larval release will increase predation by planktivorous fishes in upwelling regimes. Weak synchrony in the timing of larval release should increase larval mortality in a wide array of animals that brood embryos in the intertidal zone, regardless of the selective force operating, and it could contribute to recruitment limitation in upwelling regimes.


KEY WORDS: Larval release · Hatching · Endogenous rhythms · Upwelling · Fish predation · Larvae


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Cite this article as: Morgan SG, White JW, McAfee ST, Gaines SD, Schmitt RJ (2011) Weak synchrony in the timing of larval release in upwelling regimes. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 425:103-112. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08969

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