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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 340 - Feature article
Cyprid larva of the barnacle Balanus amphitrite containing lipid droplets, its main energy reserve. Photo: Réjean Tremblay

Tremblay R, Olivier F, Bourget E, Rittschof D


Physiological condition of Balanus amphitrite cyprid larvae determines habitat selection success


The importance of larval supply and of the energetic quality of settling larvae for habitat selection and recruitment are central themes in marine population dynamics. This study on barnacle larvae by Tremblay and co-workers contributes to the understanding of the linkage between larval physiological condition and settlement behaviour. Field experiments indicated that the energetic reserves (mainly triacylglycerol content) determine habitat selection behaviour on intertidal surfaces in Balanus amphitrite cyprids. More specifically, larvae with lower energetic reserves risk settling on poor quality sites. The data support the ‘desperate larva hypothesis’, which postulates that nonfeeding larvae become less selective with regard to settlement sites as they age, due to the consumption of the energy reserves required for metamorphosis.


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