Document Detail

Precise tuning of barnacle leg length to coastal wave action.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  11600079     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Both spatial and temporal variation in environmental conditions can favour intraspecific plasticity in animal form. But how precise is such environmental modulation? Individual Balanus glandula Darwin, a common northeastern Pacific barnacle, produce longer feeding legs in still water than in moving water. We report here that, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Canada, the magnitude and the precision of this phenotypic variation is impressive. First, the feeding legs of barnacles from protected bays were nearly twice as long (for the same body mass) as those from open ocean shores. Second, leg length varied surprisingly precisely with wave exposure: the average maximum velocities of breaking waves recorded in situ explained 95.6-99.5% of the variation in average leg length observed over a threefold range of wave exposure. The decline in leg length with increasing wave action was less than predicted due to simple scaling, perhaps due to changes in leg shape or material properties. Nonetheless, the precision of this relationship reveals a remarkably close coupling between growth environment and adult form, and suggests that between-population differences in barnacle leg length may be used for estimating differences in average wave exposure easily and accurately in studies of coastal ecology.
D J Arsenault; K B Marchinko; A R Palmer
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society     Volume:  268     ISSN:  0962-8452     ISO Abbreviation:  Proc. Biol. Sci.     Publication Date:  2001 Oct 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2001-10-15     Completed Date:  2002-01-25     Revised Date:  2010-09-14    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101245157     Medline TA:  Proc Biol Sci     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  2149-54     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
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MeSH Terms
Adaptation, Physiological*
Extremities / anatomy & histology,  physiology
Thoracica / anatomy & histology*,  classification,  physiology*
Water Movements*

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