Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why Do Oysters Choose To Live Where They Could Be Eaten?

Date:
May 2, 2007
Source:
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Summary:
Scientists have 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. In the case of oyster larvae, that selection can be a life or death decision.

Oyster beds and Eagle Creek Reef.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

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.

Related Articles


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
  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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. "Why Do Oysters Choose To Live Where They Could Be Eaten?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 May 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070501075024.htm>.
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. (2007, May 2). Why Do Oysters Choose To Live Where They Could Be Eaten?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 5, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070501075024.htm
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. "Why Do Oysters Choose To Live Where They Could Be Eaten?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070501075024.htm (accessed March 5, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts

Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts

AP (Mar. 5, 2015) The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is ending its iconic elephant acts. The circus&apos; parent company, Feld Entertainment, told the AP exclusively that the acts will be phased out by 2018 over growing public concern about the animals. (March 5) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) Once nearly extinct, grey whales now migrate in their thousands to Mexico&apos;s Vizcaino reserve in Baja California, in search of warmer waters to mate and give birth. Tourists flock to the reserve to see the whales, measuring up to 49 feet long. (March 4) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Australian Museum Shares Terrifying Goblin Shark With the World

Australian Museum Shares Terrifying Goblin Shark With the World

Buzz60 (Mar. 4, 2015) The Australian Museum has taken in its fourth-ever goblin shark, a rare fish with an electricity-sensing snout and &apos;alien-like&apos; jaw. Mike Janela (@mikejanela) takes a look. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Hormone Could Protect Against Diabetes And Weight Gain

New Hormone Could Protect Against Diabetes And Weight Gain

Newsy (Mar. 4, 2015) A newly discovered hormone mimics the effects of exercise, protecting against diabetes and weight gain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins