Ocean glider observations give new insights into the goose barnacles in the Western Mediterranean

Joint UIB and SOCIB Master’s Thesis

The Balearic Islands Coastal Observing and Forecasting System (SOCIB) has contributed to the master’s thesis defended on September 28 by Raúl González, student of the Master's Degree in Marine Ecology from the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB). Focused on “Western Mediterranean goose barnacles (Lepadidae family): diversity, distribution, and environmental boundaries of these resistant hitchhikers”, González thesis has followed a multidisciplinary approach by combining oceanography, marine biology, and genetics. Under Maria Capa’s (UIB) supervision, he has worked closely with Nikolaos Zarokanellos and Eva Alou-Font, both researchers at SOCIB, carrying out glider observations to bring new insights into the goose barnacles in the Western Mediterranean.

The genetic analysis has revealed that the diversity in this region had been previously overlooked and two potentially new species, closely resembling other species reported in the area, have been found. In addition, some of the populations examined have shown to have a disjoint and broad worldwide distribution, only explainable by the unintentional translocation of individuals along different geographic regions. Using underwater gliders for a period of over a year has allowed researchers to examine their connectivity and the environmental resistance that these organisms have developed from a few days to months, finding that these organisms could survive and grow under significant changes in pressure, salinity, temperature, and oxygen since the ocean glider dive from the surface to 1000 m.

These results are significant because only a few studies have shown that these organisms can survive only to 200m. Now, further work will be done to analyze the physiological response to these drastic changes in their surrounding environment.


Figure 1: Top left panel indicated the region where the ocean gliders deployed from February 2020 until May 2021. The top right panel shows a species from the Lepadidae family, and the bottom panels show gliders where different species of goose barnacles have been attached. Balearic Islands Coastal Observing and Forecasting System (SOCIB).