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Data from: Alongshore variation in barnacle populations is determined by surfzone hydrodynamics

Cite this dataset

Shanks, Alan L. et al. (2017). Data from: Alongshore variation in barnacle populations is determined by surfzone hydrodynamics [Dataset]. Dryad.


Larvae in the coastal ocean are transported toward shore by a variety of mechanisms. Crossing the surf zone is the last step in a shoreward migration and surf zones may act as semipermeable barriers altering delivery of larvae to the shore. We related variation in the structure of intertidal barnacle populations to surfzone width (surfzone hydrodynamics proxy), wave height, alongshore wind stress (upwelling proxy), solar radiation, and latitude at 40 rocky intertidal sites from San Diego, California to the Olympic Peninsula, Washington. We measured daily settlement and weekly recruitment of barnacles at selected sites and related these measures to surfzone width. Chthamalus density varied inversely with that of Balanus, and the density of Balanus and new recruits was negatively related to solar radiation. Across the region, long-term mean wave height and an indicator of upwelling intensity and frequency did not explain variation in Balanus or new-recruit densities. Balanus and new-recruit densities, daily settlement and weekly recruitment were up to three orders of magnitude higher at sites with wide (> 50 m), more dissipative surf zones with bathymetric rip currents than at sites with narrow (< 50 m) more reflective surf zones. Thirty to 50% of the variability in Balanus and new-recruit densities was explained by surfzone width. We sampled a subset of sites < 5 km apart where coastal hydrodynamics such as upwelling should be very similar. At paired sites with similar surfzone widths, Balanus densities were not different. If surfzone widths at paired sites were dissimilar, Balanus densities, daily settlement and weekly recruitment were significantly higher at sites with the wider more dissipative surf zone. The primary drivers of surfzone hydrodynamics are the wave climate and the slope of the shore and these persist over time, and therefore site-specific stability in surfzone hydrodynamics should result in stable barnacle population characteristics. Variations in surfzone hydrodynamics appear to play a fundamental role in regulating barnacle populations along the open coast, which in turn may have consequences for the entire intertidal community.

Usage notes


National Science Foundation, Award: NSF-OCE#092735


West Coast
North America