UCB Moorea Class: Biology and Geomorphology of Tropical Islands
INTERTIDAL ZONATION OF TWO GASTROPODS, NERITA PLICATA AND MORULA GRANULATA, IN MOOREA, FRENCH POLYNESIA
- Author(s): Wormser, Vanessa
- Advisor(s): Mishler, Brent
- Stillman, Jonathon
- Resh, Vincent
- Roderick, George
- et al.
Intertidal zonation of organisms is a key factor in ecological community structure and the existence of fundamental and realized niches. The zonation of two species of gastropods,Nerita plicata and Morula granulata were investigated using field observations and lab experimentation. The Nerita plicata were found on the upper limits of the intertidal zone while the Morula granulata were found on the lower limits. The distribution of each species was observed and the possible causes of this zonation were examined. Three main factors, desiccation, flow resistance and shell size were tested for their zonation. In the field, shell measurements of each species were made to see if a vertical shell size gradient existed; the results showed an upshore shell size gradient for each species. In the lab, experiments were run to see if the zonation preference found in the field existed in the lab as well. This experiment confirmed that a zonation between these species does in fact exist. Additional experiments were run to test desiccation and flow resistance between each species. A difference in desiccation rates and flow resistance were found with the Nerita plicata being more resistant to both flow and desiccation. The findings of this study provide an understanding on why zonation between these two species could exist as well an intertidal community and ecosystems as a whole.