Recruitment in a Sea Anemone Population: Juvenile Substrate Becomes Adult Prey

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Science  14 Aug 1981:
Vol. 213, Issue 4509, pp. 785-787
DOI: 10.1126/science.213.4509.785


Populations of the sea anemone Anthopleura xanthogrammica (Brandt) occur in tide pools and surge channels below intertidal mussel beds where they capture mussels dislodged by wave action and by sea star foraging. Dense concentrations of small juvenile anemones occur only within mussel beds and are probably the result of larval settlement or differential survival in that habitat. Areas experimentally cleared of anemones showed that recruitment was primarily by migrating juveniles and that the rate of immigration over a 2-year period was much higher in experimental removal areas near mussel beds than in those further away. Mussel beds thus function as an important juvenile habitat (refuge and nursery); juveniles later migrate downward and are then in a position to capture dislodged mussels and grow to adult size.