Thursday, August 3, 2017

Revenge of the barnacles

When I first started my study of the mechanisms of succession in subtidal fouling communities, I thought it would be about barnacles. I thought the barnacles would be the first species to recruit to my panels, that they would have a huge impact on how the rest of the community developed, and that I could study that effect. Not so.
Look, barnacles!

There were barnacles, but not nearly enough to do a whole experiment with. I ended up focusing on other organisms - hydroids, ascidians, bryozoans. Well, this week and next, my study is wrapping up, and in an act of perfect irony, the barnacles started showing up. Imagine that!

I had been told there would be two pulses of barnacles, one shallower, one deeper, and I guess this is the deep pulse. The barancles are all in genus Balanus. The interesting thing, though, is that they're not on all of my plates. They're only recruiting to the plates where there was clear space because the dominant organism had previously been removed. For example, they're all over my "remove hydroids" plates at the WHOI pier but not abundant on plates in other treatments. Very interesting.

Ecology is full of surprises. The fact that barnacles finally recruited to my fouling panels in the last week of my study is pretty ironic. I had to laugh, but in reality, I have great data from my fouling panels and look forward to the analysis.

Well played, little barnacles, well played.  

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