Spatial and temporal variability of larval supply can strongly influence recruitment rates in populations of intertidal marine invertebrates, and thus determine the abundance and distribution patterns of adults. However, the behaviour of larvae prior to settlement, and their physiological condition, may also play an important role. There are several factors that influence the physiological quality of a larva, one being the maternal effect, i.e. the way resources are manipulated by mothers to produce their offspring, especially how it affects fecundity. Another important factor is the trophic status of the environment where early planktotrophic stages develop into non-feeding pre-competent stages. Yet, little is known on the relationship between these two processes and whether natural variability of nearshore conditions actually constraint juvenile performance and recruitment rates. In this study we will examine whether processes affecting embryonic and larval quality are independent or interactive, and also whether environmental conditions along a subtropical coastline mediate larval quality trends at the mesoscale. We will use the acorn barnacle Chthamalus bisinuatus as a biological model, and both lab and field experimental approaches to test the effects of nutrient supply to mothers and to their offspring. We will measure a suite of indicators, including mortality and lipid metabolism, in both early (naupliar) and late (cyprid) larvae. Also, we will track the fate of juveniles transplanted to the field as to predict latent effects on recruitment.
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