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Journal of Marine Biology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 386575, 9 pages
Research Article

Larval Diel Vertical Migration of the Marine Gastropod Kelletia kelletii (Forbes, 1850)

1Department of Biological Science, California State University Fullerton, P.O. Box 6850, Fullerton, CA 92834-6850, USA
2Graduate Group in Ecology, University of California Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA
3Global Change Research Group, Department of Biology, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182, USA

Received 2 April 2012; Revised 25 May 2012; Accepted 9 July 2012

Academic Editor: Susumu Ohtsuka

Copyright © 2012 Melissa R. Romero et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Documenting larval behavior is critical for building an understanding of larval dispersal dynamics and resultant population connectivity. Nocturnal diel vertical migration (DVM), a daily migration towards the surface of the water column at night and downward during the day, can profoundly influence dispersal outcomes. Via laboratory experiments we investigated whether marine gastropod Kelletia kelletii larvae undergo nocturnal DVM and whether the behavior was influenced by the presence of light, ontogeny, and laboratory culturing column height. Larvae exhibited a daily migration pattern consistent with nocturnal diel vertical migration with lower average vertical positioning (ZCM) during day-time hours and higher vertical positioning at night-time hours. ZCM patterns varied throughout ontogeny; larvae became more demersal as they approached competency. There was no effect of column height on larval ZCM. DVM behavior persisted in the absence of light, indicating a possible endogenous rhythm. Findings from field plankton tows corroborated laboratory nocturnal DVM findings; significantly more K. kelletii were found in surface waters at midnight compared to at noon. Unraveling the timing of and the cues initiating DVM behavior in K. kelletii larvae can help build predictive models of dispersal outcomes for this emerging fishery species.