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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 259:139-144 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/meps259139

Effects of settler size and density on early post- settlement survival of Ciona intestinalis in the field

Dustin J. Marshall*, Michael J. Keough

Zoology Department, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia

ABSTRACT: Effects of variation in larval quality on post-metamorphic performance in marine invertebrates are increasingly apparent. Recently, it has been shown that variation in offspring size can also strongly affect post-settlement survival, but variation in environmental conditions can mediate this effect. The quality of habitat into which marine invertebrate larvae settle can vary markedly, and 1 influence on quality is the number of conspecifics present. We tested the effects of settler size and settler density on early (1 wk after settlement) post-settlement survival in the field for the solitary ascidian Ciona intestinalis. Larger settlers survived better than smaller settlers, within and among groups of siblings. Increases in the density of settlers decreased survival, but the density-dependent effects were much stronger for smaller settlers. We suggest that larger settlers are better able to cope with intra-specific competition because they have greater energetic reserves or a greater capacity to feed than smaller settlers.

KEY WORDS: Offspring size · Carry-over effects · Recruitment · Density-dependence

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