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Population structure of the barnacle, Semibalanus balanoides (Cirripedia, Thoracica), across intertidal environmental stress gradients in northern Nova Scotia, Canada

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We describe spatial trends in population structure of the barnacle, Semibalanus balanoides, across gradients of environmental stress on the Gulf of St. Lawrence coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. In the early summer of 2006, we examined vertical gradients of intertidal elevation and horizontal gradients of exposure to wave action and winter ice scour. Recruits were considerably less abundant than adults at all sites, suggesting a high post-recruitment mortality. Although adult barnacles seemed less abundant in areas subjected to strong winter ice scour than in sheltered areas, such a trend lacked statistical support. Adult barnacles were more abundant at high elevations than at low elevations, possibly as a result of vertical differences in the intensity of competition and predation. Size structure was better developed at the high intertidal zone than at the low intertidal zone, with larger organisms occurring at high elevations. In general, it appears as though biotic interactions at the low intertidal zone may play a greater role than abiotic factors at the high intertidal zone in determining the population structure of S. balanoides, although field experimentation will be necessary to confirm this notion. Describimos tendencias espaciales en la estructura poblacional del balano Semibalanus balanoides a través de gradientes de estrés ambiental en la costa del golfo de San Lorenzo en Nova Scotia, Canadá. En el verano temprano de 2006, examinamos gradientes verticales de elevación intermareal y gradientes horizontales de exposición al oleaje y al raspado por hielo marino invernal. Los reclutas fueron considerablemente más abundantes que los adultos en todos los sitios, sugiriendo una alta mortalidad luego del reclutamiento. Aunque los balanos adultos parecían ser menos numerosos en áreas sujetas a un raspado intenso por hielo marino invernal que en áreas protegidas, tal tendencia no mostró un sustento estadístico. Los balanos adultos fueron más numerosos en el intermareal superior que en el inferior, posiblemente como resultado de diferencias verticales en la intensidad de la competencia y predación. La estructura de tamaños estuvo mejor desarrollada en el intermareal superior que en el inferior, con organismos más grandes ocurriendo en el alto intermareal. En general, parece que las interacciones bióticas fueran más importantes en el intermareal inferior que los factores abióticos en el intermareal superior en la determinación de la estructura poblacional de S. balanoides, aunque experimentos de campo serán necesarios para confirmar esta noción.

Affiliations: 1: Saint Francis Xavier University, Department of Biology, Antigonish, Nova Scotia B2G 2W5, Canada


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