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!
How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy