Variation in larval quality has been shown to strongly affect the post-metamorphic performance of a wide range of marine invertebrate species. Extending the larval period of non-feeding larvae strongly affects post-metamorphic survival and growth in a range of species. These 'carry-over' effects are assumed to be due to changes in larval energetic reserves but direct tests are surprisingly rare. Here, we examine the energetic costs (relative to the costs of metamorphosis) of extending the larval period of the colonial ascidian Diplosoma listerianum. We also manipulated larval activity levels and compared the energy consumption rates of swimming larvae and inactive larvae. Larval swimming was, energetically, very costly relative to either metamorphosis or merely extending the larval period. At least 25% of the larval energetic reserves are available for larval swimming but metamorphosis was relatively inexpensive in this species and larval reserves can be used for post-metamorphic growth. The carry-over effects previously observed in this species appear to be nutritionally mediated and even short (<3 h) periods of larval swimming can significantly deplete larval energy reserves.
- Delayed metamorphosis