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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 590:131-143 (2018)  -  DOI:

Barnacle settlement and growth at oil and gas platforms in the northern Gulf of Mexico

David B. Reeves1,2,*, Edward J. Chesney2, Ryan T. Munnelly2,3, Donald M. Baltz1

1Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State University, 1002-Y Energy, Coast & Environment Building, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
2Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, 8124 Hwy 56, Chauvin, LA 70344, USA
3Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, 100 8th Avenue, Southeast St. Petersburg, FL 33701, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Nearshore oil and gas platforms (platforms) off Louisiana's coast occupy some of the most productive waters in the United States. Platforms are de facto artificial reefs with diverse fouling and fish communities, but little is known about the spatial dynamics of secondary production at platforms. In 2015 and 2016, we used settlement plates to compare barnacle production along a 43.9 km landward-seaward transect at depths of 2 and 7 m. Amphibalanus reticulatus settlement was greater at 2 than at 7 m and decreased with distance from shore at rates of -2.0 to -86.2 ind. m-2 d-1 km-1, depending on depth and year. A. reticulatus growth rates were greater closer to shore, at 2 vs. 7 m, and in 2016 vs. 2015. Height growth ranged from 0.02 to 0.13 mm d-1, but width growth was not associated with any variables. A. reticulatus total and tissue weight gains were similar to growth rates and ranged from 0.43-8.17 and 0.13-1.82 mg d-1, respectively. The ratio of tissue to total weight was greater in 2016 than 2015 and was similar for smaller barnacles, regardless of distance. However, distance had a strong negative effect on this ratio for larger barnacles and peaked at ~25 to 30%. Greater barnacle settlement and growth rates in nearshore waters suggest that prolific primary and secondary production translate to increased production of fouling organisms. Moreover, greater barnacle production at 2 than at 7 m depth suggests the vertical dimension of platforms is an important aspect of their ecological value.

KEY WORDS: Secondary production · Artificial reefs · Amphibalanus reticulatus · Attraction vs. production · Settlement plates

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Cite this article as: Reeves DB, Chesney EJ, Munnelly RT, Baltz DM (2018) Barnacle settlement and growth at oil and gas platforms in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 590:131-143.

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