Brachyuran Post-Larval Settlement
Yvan Nieto, Bryan Franks & Dr. Samuel H. Gruber
Megalopae under the microscope
Most benthic invertebrates have a planktonic larval stage of development and their larvae have to return to the shore to settle after completing their developments in offshore areas. This transition from planktonic to benthic existence is a critical step for these organisms that could have a major impact on the demography of the populations. Nevertheless, despite of the importance of this event, much is unknown about the different processes leading to the settlement of the post-larvae (megalopae). Recent evidence suggests that settlement involves both passive and active larval movements. The passive way is related to hydrological events directed by physical processes, and the active movements are related to the swim capacities of those organisms and true habitat selection processes.
To assess the influence of physical factors on the post-larval settlement of decapods in Bimini, I'm sampling the daily rate of settlement using modified Metcalf (1995) collectors. The data obtained with this sampling will next be compared with wind, moon phase, tide and temperature data to look at possible correlations. In addition, I'm using collectors filled with mangroves or seagrass, to see if the chemical cues emanant of the vegetation have an influence on the settlement behaviour of the megalopae.
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