Patterns in the larval vertical distribution of marine benthic invertebrates in a shallow coastal embayment
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Processes during the meroplanktonic phase regulate population dynamics for many marine benthic invertebrates. I examined changes in vertical distribution of different meroplanktonic larvae in a coastal embayment during a stable period, at high temporal frequencies and spatial resolutions. Plankton samples were collected at 6 depths (3, 6, 9, 12, 18, 24 m) using a pump, every 2-h over a 36- and a 25-h period, during a spring and neap tide, respectively, concurrently with measures of temperature, salinity, fluorescence and current velocity. For 10 gastropod taxa, larval vertical distribution was mostly related to the thermal structure of the water column. Each of 7 taxonomic groups was found either exclusively near the surface, associated with the fluorescence maximum, or showed diel changes in distribution. These larvae that occupy different depths in the water column exhibit different dispersal potentials.