Variable effects of larval size on post-metamorphic performance in the field

Dustin J. Marshall, Michael J. Keough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Larval quality may be capable of explaining much of the variation in the recruitment and subsequent population dynamics of benthic marine invertebrates. Whilst the effects of larval nutritional condition on adult performance have received the most attention, recent work has shown that larval size may also be an important and ubiquitous source of variation in larval quality. We examined the effects of variation in larval size on the post-metamorphic survival and growth of Watersipora subtorquata in 2 very different habitats - experimental substrata and pier pilings. We found strong effects of larval size on colony performance, although these varied among experiments. For colonies on experimental substrata, larval size positively affected adult survival and, initially, growth. However, after 3 wk in the field, there was no relationship between larval size and colony size, possibly because colonies were completely surrounded by newly settled organisms. Larval size also positively affected post-metamorphic growth of colonies on pier pilings, but, surprisingly, colonies that came from larger larvae had lower survival than colonies from smaller larvae. Overall, variation in larval size will strongly affect the recruitment and subsequent performance of adults in this species, although this may vary among different habitats. This study highlights the importance of examining the effects of larval quality on adult performance in as realistic conditions as possible, because of the strong interaction between larval size effects and the environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-80
Number of pages8
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Bryozoan
  • Carry-over effects
  • Egg size

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