There are many reasons why living in dense groups with others of your own kind is a good idea. Oftentimes, aggregations of a species serve as protection from predators and harsh environments or may be beneficial to future reproductive success. However, in the case of oyster larvae, the selection of a place to call home can be a life or death decision.
According to an article in the May edition of Ecological Monographs, a team of scientists has found that despite the risk of being eaten by cannibalistic adults, oyster larvae choose to settle in areas of high oyster concentrations to take advantage of future benefits of increased reproductive capacity when they mature.“Oyster larvae make a life or death decision when they get their one chance to select where to attach themselves to the bottom,” said University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Chesapeake Biological Laboratory researcher Dr. Mario Tamburri. “Our research shows that oyster larvae are willing to risk predation by adult oysters to cash in on the benefits accrued by spending the remainder of their lives among a large number of their species.”
Tamburri worked with UCLA researcher Drs. Richard K. Zimmer and Cheryl Ann Zimmer to examine this apparent paradox. The group set out to find: (1) if oyster larvae are attracted to settle on oyster reefs among adults of the same species because of the potential benefits to group-living, (2) if adult oysters will eat larvae of the same species, and (3) how risky is gregarious settlement among cannibals.
Using a series of laboratory experiments and field surveys, Tamburri has demonstrated that oyster larvae are attracted from a distance by the scent of adults from the same species. Yet, death for a larvae captured by a feeding adult is nearly certain at greater than 90 percent.
A series of experiments examining the feeding currents produced by adult oysters and how larvae actively settle on reefs helped solved the puzzle. Oyster feeding currents are actually very weak, so while they will readily eat larvae if captured, settling larvae are just not captured very often. In fact, when a comparison of being captured versus landing on a suitable location to grow was conducted, it was found that more than 95 percent of an oyster reef is a safe zone for larvae. Given this low cannibalism risk at settlement, future payoffs appear to have driven the evolution of a gregarious settlement cue that promotes group living in oysters.
The article, “Mechanisms reconciling gregarious larval settlement with adult cannibalism,” is in the May edition of the Ecological Society of America’s journal Ecological Monographs and can de downloaded from http://www.esapubs.org/esapubs/journals/monographs.htm.
The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science is the principal research institution for advanced environmental research and graduate studies within the University System of Maryland. UMCES researchers are helping improve our scientific understanding of Maryland, the region and the world through its three laboratories, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in Solomons, Appalachian Laboratory in Frostburg, and Horn Point Laboratory in Cambridge, as well as the Maryland Sea Grant College.
Christopher Conner | EurekAlert!
Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences