The critical role of wave energy in the ecology of nearshore organisms is widely accepted, based primarily on biotic correlations over large scales of time and space. Much less is known about how large waves impact the behavioral ecology of individual organisms. Theoretical considerations and measurements of tenacity predict that intertidal gastropods should minimize the chances of dislodgement during periods of high waves by remaining stationary. We tested this prediction by observing a population of the owl limpet, Lottia gigantea G. B. Sowerby I, 1834, in a range of sea conditions. We found the proportion of the population moving during high tide was reduced when maximum wave height exceeded 1 m. This relatively low threshold suggests that ambient sea state has a consistent influence on foraging strategy of intertidal limpets.
Wright, W. G. and J. W. Nybakken. 2007. Effect of wave action on movement in the owl limpet, Lottia gigantea. Bull. Mar. Sci.81: 235-244.
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science of the University of Miami