There is a growing realization that events during one portion of an organism's life cycle can have both subtle and dramatic effects on other stages in the life history. Lethal and sublethal effects associated with the duration of larval swimming in marine invertebrates were examined for the bryozoan Bugula neritina. Larvae were kept swimming up to a maximum of 28 h at 20{deg}C by exposure to continuous bright fluorescent illumination. At 4-h intervals, samples of 20-40 larvae were removed from bright illumination and were exposed to seawater containing 10 mM excess KCI, an inducer of metamorphosis in this species. Over the first 12 h of larval swimming, an average of about 90% of the larvae initiated and completed metamorphosis; at 16 h, the percentage of larvae initiating and completing metamorphosis dropped significantly. By 28 h, about half of the larvae were initiating metamorphosis, whereas only one-fifth were completing metamorphosis. Larval swimming duration also significantly affected the duration of metamorphosis. By 30 h of larval swimming, individuals were taking about 25% longer to complete metamorphosis. Compared to ancestrulae that developed from larvae that were induced to metamorphose shortly after the onset of swimming, those that swam for greater than 8 h had significantly smaller lophophores. For example, by 28 h of larval swimming the ancestrular lophophore decreased in height, surface area, and volume by about 25%, 40% and 55%, respectively. This marked decrease in lophophore size may ultimately affect the ability of juveniles to sequester food, compete for space, and attain reproductive maturity. Thus, increasing the duration of larval swimming affects both metamorphosis and the development of postlarval structures, which may ultimately influence colony fitness.



Publisher statement

This is an author-produced electronic version of an article published in The Biological Bulletin in 1996, volume 191, pages 224-233. © Marine Biological Laboratory. The official version of the article is available at http://www.biolbull.org/cgi/content/abstract/191/2/224.

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