Nav: Home

Baby sea snails ride waves into shallower waters, study suggests

August 07, 2018

The warming ocean may cause the larvae of bottom-dwelling snails to hatch earlier in the spring, when waves are larger, potentially impacting their ability to survive and serve as food for other sea creatures.

A Rutgers University-New Brunswick study sheds new light on the sensory organs the snail larvae use to feel - and perhaps even hear - whether the water is turbulent or wavy, and improve their odds of being carried to a good habitat where they can settle down as adults.

The study, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focuses on two species of snail, both of which live along North America's East Coast: eastern mudsnails (Tritia obsoleta), which live in inlets, and threeline mudsnails (Tritia trivittata), which live in the deeper waters of the continental shelf.

The inlet-dwelling snails more often experience water that is turbulent but not very wavy. The continental shelf-dwelling snails live in a less turbulent, wavier environment.

In experiments, the researchers found that the larvae experienced turbulence as rotation or tilting of the body and sensed waves as acceleration in a straight line. Both signals are detected by a statocyst - a small organ similar to the human inner ear.

The experiments suggest larvae can detect waves as both motion and low-frequency sound, according to lead researcher Heidi L. Fuchs, an associate professor in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.

When the larvae of both species experience turbulence, they respond either by swimming with more effort or by sinking. Waves triggered a similar, stronger reaction and resulted in upward swimming only in the larvae that dwell in the continental shelf. Swimming upward may allow them to use the shoreward drift of the waves to avoid being carried over the open ocean where they would be lost, Fuchs said.

"More than 99 percent of the snail larvae we studied die in transit, partly because they're carried away from any place where they could survive," Fuchs said. "Probably one in 20,000 of these larvae survives through adulthood, so it's critical that survivors wind up in a tolerable habitat."

But climate change complicates things. Over the last few decades, these larvae probably have been hatching earlier and exposed to larger waves, which could push them into shallower, warmer water that is less tolerable to adults. How this affects their population is a subject of a new study.
-end-


Rutgers University

Related Swimming Articles:

More than 1/3 of parents would allow child to be in residential or hotel pool unsupervised
As kids get ready to splash around in pools this summer, some parents may underestimate drowning risks, suggests a new national poll.
Novel technique helps diagnose swimming-induced respiratory condition
Exercise-induced obstruction of the larynx, or voice box, is often a cause of respiratory symptoms in athletes and is particularly prevalent in swimmers.
New approach to measure fluid drag on the body during swimming
University of Tsukuba researchers developed an approach to measure the amount of active drag from the water to which swimmers are subjected.
Simple rule explains complex group swimming patterns
Novel approach to studying coordinated swimming in fish reveals a surprisingly simple rule.
Surprising results found in the swimming mechanism of microorganism-related model
For years, B. Ubbo Felderhof, RWTH Aachen University, has explored the mechanisms fish and microorganisms rely on to propel themselves.
More Swimming News and Swimming Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans
More than test scores or good grades — what do kids need to prepare them for the future? This hour, guest host Manoush Zomorodi and TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, in and out of the classroom. Guests include educators Olympia Della Flora and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#535 Superior
Apologies for the delay getting this week's episode out! A technical glitch slowed us down, but all is once again well. This week, we look at the often troubling intertwining of science and race: its long history, its ability to persist even during periods of disrepute, and the current forms it takes as it resurfaces, leveraging the internet and nationalism to buoy itself. We speak with Angela Saini, independent journalist and author of the new book "Superior: The Return of Race Science", about where race science went and how it's coming back.