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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 506:15-30 (2014)  -  DOI:

Effect of nearshore surface slicks on meroplankton distribution: role of larval behaviour

Nicolás Weidberg1,4,*, Carla Lobón1, Eva López1, Lucía García Flórez2, María del Pino Fernández Rueda2, John L. Largier3, José Luis Acuña1

1Área de Ecología. Dpto. Biología de Organismos y Sistemas de la Universidad de Oviedo, C/ Valentín Andrés Álvarez s/n,
33071 Oviedo, Asturias, Spain
2Centro de Experimentación Pesquera, Escuela de Formación Profesional Náutico-Pesquera, Avenida Príncipe de Asturias s/n, 33212 Gijón, Asturias, Spain
3Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California, Davis, 2099 Westside Drive, Bodega Bay, 94923-0247 California, USA
4Present address: Coastal Research Group, Department of Zoology and Entomology, Artillery Road 6140, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: During a 10 d survey off the Central Cantabrian Coast, we used GPS-drifters and bongo nets to observe water circulation and meroplankton distributions associated with 4 different nearshore surface slicks or foam lines. Accumulation of larvae was observed associated with surface convergence at these slicks. Three of the slicks moved onshore at velocities ranging between 2 and 11 cm s-1 and accumulated cyprid barnacle larvae, crab zoeae, littorinid veligers, and annelid and ascidian larvae from the onshore side of the front. The predominant onshore source of larvae suggests that, in our study area, surface slicks may result in onshore retention of larvae. Accumulation at surface slicks was greatest for larvae with swimming speeds about half the speed of the cross-frontal, horizontal surface convergence. We hypothesize that this peak corresponds to an optimum slick speed for which the horizontal surface flow is strong enough to bring significant numbers of larvae to the front, but the associated downward vertical flow at the convergence line is weak enough to be countered by upward swimming. However, we estimated that the vertical flow may be stronger than the horizontal convergence, thus buoyancy and behavioural shifts in larval swimming performance may play an important role in the frontal accumulation of larvae. Given differences in swimming capabilities of different taxa and larval stages, a surface convergence can bring about different transport outcomes, accumulating or acting as a barrier for some larvae while allowing others to move through.

KEY WORDS: Meroplankton · Coastal fronts · Convergence currents · Swimming velocity

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Cite this article as: Weidberg N, Lobón C, López E, García Flórez L, Fernández Rueda MdP, Largier J, Acuña JL (2014) Effect of nearshore surface slicks on meroplankton distribution: role of larval behaviour. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 506:15-30.

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