Recruitment patterns of Serpula vermicularis L. (Polychaeta, Serpulidae) in Loch Creran, Scotland

Nicola D. Chapman, Colin G. Moore, Dan B. Harries, Alastair R. Lyndon

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    15 Citations (Scopus)


    This study aimed to contribute to conservation management of reefs of Serpula vermicularis by increasing understanding of the factors influencing larval settlement. The study was carried out in Loch Creran, which supports the most extensive known development of S. vermicularis reefs in the world. Settlement plates were deployed to examine the influence of season, depth, reef density, substrate type and orientation. Monthly deployment of plates revealed settlement of S. vermicularis to occur predominantly from mid-June to mid-October, peaking in late August to early September. Settlement of Pomatoceros spp. peaked much earlier, in late May to early June. Deployment of plates at different depths revealed a marked reduction in S. vermicularis settlement intensity between 6 and 12 m. As this corresponds with the deeper limit of the peripheral fringe of serpulid reefs in the loch, it is suggested that this limit is imposed by a depth-correlated settlement response, rather than reduction in available substrata. Comparisons of various substrata showed a preference by S. vermicularis larvae for a slate over a scallop substrate and no evidence of enhanced recruitment to occupied or unoccupied tubes of S. vermicularis, suggesting that gregarious attraction is unlikely to be a factor causing reef formation. Settlement onto the upper side of a horizontal scallop substrate was found to be insignificant in comparison with the underside or a vertically orientated scallop. Evidence for the role of light in controlling the depth and substrate-orientation preferences of S. vermicularis larvae is discussed. Based on the results of this study, recommendations are made regarding remediation of areas suffering reef damage. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)598-606
    Number of pages9
    JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
    Issue number3-4
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007


    • biogenic reef
    • conservation
    • larval settlement
    • Loch Creran
    • Pomatoceros triqueter
    • recruitment
    • Scotland
    • Serpula vermicularis
    • substrate preferences
    • UK


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