Offspring size affects the post-metamorphic performance of a colonial marine invertebrate

Dustin J. Marshall, Toby F. Bolton, Michael J. Keough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

160 Citations (Scopus)


The positive relationship between offspring size and offspring fitness is a fundamental assumption of life-history theory, but it has received relatively little attention in the marine environment. This is surprising given that substantial intraspecific variation in offspring size is common in marine organisms and there are clear links between larval experience and adult performance. The metamorphosis of most marine invertebrates does not represent a "new beginning," and larval experiences can have effects that carry over to juvenile survival and growth. We show that larval size can have equally important carryover effects in a colonial marine invertebrate. In the bryozoan Bugula neritina, the size of the non-feeding larvae has a prolonged effect on colony performance after metamorphosis. Colonies that came from larger larvae survived better, grew faster, and reproduced sooner or produced more embryos than colonies that came from smaller larvae. These effects crossed generations, with colonies from larger larvae themselves producing larger larvae. These effects were found in two populations (in Australia and in the United States) in contrasting habitats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3131-3137
Number of pages7
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Bryozoan
  • Bugula neritina
  • Carryover effect
  • Maternal effect
  • Reproductive success

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