Crow White and Dean Wendt
There is a paucity of information concerning the growth, development, and behavior of early life history stages of Kelletia kelletii, a marine predatory gastropod and emerging fisheries species. This is a significant barrier to our current understanding of the population dynamics of this species, as the early life stages are responsible for the dispersion of individuals. For this project, Kelletia kelletii specimen were collected and spawned, their egg capsules incubated, and their larvae reared in a laboratory setting. We measured the size of individual larvae at each developmental stage within the capsule, and fit several growth functions to the data. We analyzed the fit of these functions and selected the best-fit function to represent the intra-capsular growth of the ‘veliger’ developmental stage. I disseminated our results as an educational poster for K-12 students at the Central Coast Aquarium, and I am writing up this project for my senior thesis. I also aim present our results at the COSAM Undergraduate Research Conference. The protocol, equipment, experience and set of observations compiled by this project can be used in future studies which require gastropod larval culture, and our results and observations can be used to better understand the dispersal timeline of this species. Further, we established a base growth rate which can be utilized in future studies evaluating changes in growth rate in altered environmental conditions. Future directions which would expound upon this project include a more robust quantification of the incubation period, assessing veliger growth rates as a function of environmental condition, and incorporating both into dispersal and population connectivity models for Kelletia kelletii.
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