The Influence of Substrate Material on Ascidian Larval Settlement

TitleThe Influence of Substrate Material on Ascidian Larval Settlement
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsChase, AL, Dijkstra, JA, Harris, LG
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Date PublishedMay 15
KeywordsArtificial substrate, Ascidians, Botrylloides violaceus, Ciona intestinalis, Larval substrate preference, Surface roughness

Submerged man-made structures present novel habitat for marine organisms and often host communities that differ from those on natural substrates. Although many factors are known to contribute to these differences, few studies have directly examined the influence of substrate material on organism settlement. We quantified larval substrate preferences of two species of ascidians, Ciona intestinalis (cryptogenic, formerly C. intestinalis type B) and Botrylloides violaceus (non-native), on commonly occurring natural (granite) and man-made (concrete, high-density polyethylene, PVC) marine materials in laboratory trials. Larvae exhibited species-specific settlement preferences, but generally settled more often than expected by chance on concrete and HDPE. Variation in settlement between materials may reflect preferences for rougher substrates, or may result from the influence of leached chemicals on ascidian settlement. These findings indicate that an experimental plate material can influence larval behavior and may help us understand how substrate features may contribute to differences in settlement in the field.

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