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Journal of Marine Biology
Volume 2014, Article ID 891943, 7 pages
Research Article

Limpets and Their Algal Epibionts: Costs and Benefits of Acrosiphonia spp and Ulva lactuca Growth

Western Carolina University, P.O. Box 685, Cullowhee, NC 28723, USA

Received 21 September 2013; Accepted 13 December 2013; Published 9 January 2014

Academic Editor: Robert A. Patzner

Copyright © 2014 Travis Seaborn. 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.


Epibiont and basibiont relationships can have positive and negative effects on both organisms involved, ranging in intensity from minor to major effects. Limpets of species Lottia pelta are commonly found with two algal species growing on their backs, Ulva lactuca and Acrosiphonia spp. Previous research has shown that basibionts (substrate organism) and epibionts (organism growing on the surface) have complex interactions that can be positive, negative, or neutral. A force transducer and flume were used to measure the drag forces experienced by a limpet at various water velocities. Presence of either epiphyte significantly increased limpet drag. Acrosiphonia produced a greater drag effect than U. lactuca, increasing the force substantially. When dropped in a tank, limpets with algal growth landed foot-down significantly more often than limpets without algal growth. Acrosiphonia spp. had a greater effect than Ulva lactuca. Lastly, limpets in a wind tunnel with algal growth (especially Acrosiphonia) had cooler body temperatures than limpets without algal growth. In conclusion, the effects on the basibiont of this relationship were found to be both positive and negative.