Marine Biology

, Volume 151, Issue 4, pp 1543–1550 | Cite as

A spatial gradient in the potential reproductive output of the sea mussel Mytilus californianus

  • Nicole E. PhillipsEmail author
Research Article


Spatial variation in reproductive output from different populations within a region could have important consequences for recruitment, and cascading effects on populations and communities of marine species, but is rarely examined over meso-scales (i.e., tens to hundreds of kilometers). In this study, reproduction in the dominant mid-intertidal mussel, Mytilus californianus, was examined from sites spanning Point Conception, California over a 6-month period (March–August 2000). There was a dramatic geographic pattern in the relationship between size and potential reproductive output that was qualitatively similar across all 6 months sampled. Increases in allocation to reproductive tissue with increasing body size occurred at all sites, but the slope nearly doubled at sites south of Point Conception compared to northern sites. The spatial variation in size-specific reproductive output, coupled with additional spatial gradients in mussel density and size distributions, combined to increase total reproductive output by over eightfold at southern relative to northern sites. This study highlights the need to explicitly examine spatial patterns of reproductive output at these meso-scales, in order to better understand connectivity and source–sink dynamics in marine systems.


Particulate Organic Carbon Reproductive Output Reproductive Tissue Point Conception Northern Site 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



For generous field and laboratory help I thank: C. Galst, M. Meyers, N. Hernandez, C. McGary, and E. Fikre; and for logistical support of field work: C. Svedlund and C. Blanchette. This research was supported by funds from an NSF graduate fellowship to the author, also in part by NSF BIR94-13141 and NSF GER93-54870 to W. Murdoch, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation to S. Gaines. This is contribution number 232 from PISCO, the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans, funded primarily by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The experiments reported here comply with the current laws of the USA.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.School of Biological SciencesVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

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