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Dispersal strategies in sponge larvae: integrating the life history of larvae and the hydrologic component

Mariani, Simone, Uriz, María-J., Turon, Xavier, Alcoverro, Teresa
Oecologia 2006 v.149 no.1 pp. 174-184
Algae, Crambe, adults, caves, couplings, environmental factors, hydrology, larvae, life history, plankton, swimming
While known to be uniformly non-feeding, short-lived, and potentially short dispersing, sponge larvae display different behaviours (swimming ability and taxis). Our aim was to show whether sponge larvae with different behaviours exhibit different dispersal strategies under variable intensity of water movements. We first assessed the distribution of larvae of six taxa: Dictyoceratida spp., Dysidea avara, Crambe crambe, Phorbas tenacior, Scopalina lophyropoda, and Cliona viridis, collected through plankton sampling, and the abundance of the corresponding adult sponges across three hard bottom communities and a sandy bottom from a north-west Mediterranean rocky shore. We then tested adult-larvae couplings (abundance of larvae vs abundance of adults) under increasing levels of water movements (surge) to assess the importance of this environmental factor in driving differences in dispersal strategies. Adults of Dictyoceratida spp., D. avara, and P. tenacior were most abundant in semi-dark caves (SDC), C. crambe and C. viridis in communities of sciaphilic algae (SA), whereas the distribution of S. lophyropoda was extremely patchy, being present almost only in the SA community of one of the five stations studied. Larvae of Dictyoceratida spp. and P. tenacior were more abundant in the SDC, whereas D. avara and C. crambe were homogeneously distributed across the communities. The larvae of C. viridis were more abundant in the SA communities and the S. lophyropoda larvae were mostly present in one station and one community (SA). Increased water movement did not modify the adult-larvae coupling for Dictyoceratida spp., D. avara, and C. crambe, whereas it broke up the positive association for P. tenacior and to some extent S. lophyropoda. For C. viridis, possible variability in adult-larvae coupling was not tested because the larvae were collected on only one day under calm sea conditions. We confirm that efficient-swimming larvae with some cue response can actively counteract hydrodynamic forces and highlight the importance of both larval behaviour and environmental conditions in determining small-scale patterns of dispersal.