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COI Funded Project: Temporal Variation in Larval Supply Relative to Turbulence in a Tidal Inlet

Project Funded: 2003
Key Words: Transport & Settling, Turbulance, Cape Cod Bay, Species Distribution, Intertidal, Gastropod Larvae, Intertidal Ecology, Larval Behavior, Settlement Processes

Proposed Research

Planktonic larvae of intertidal snails may use near-shore turbulence as their first cue to sink to the bottom and explore potential settlement sites. If settlement behavior is controlled by turbulence, then the supply of larvae to the bottom should vary in time and space in predictable ways. We are planning a field project at Barnstable Harbor, MA, to test predictions about the distributions of larvae that sink in turbulent conditions. We will take physical and biological measurements over several tidal cycles, and expect that active settlers will be distributed differently than passive larvae throughout the tidal cycle. If gastropod larvae do have a strong settlement response to turbulence, then shoreline modifications, such as the construction of piers and outfalls, could disrupt natural settlement patterns and alter benthic community dynamics.

Originally published: January 25, 2003