Experiments performed in the field and in the laboratory show that the barnacle, Balanus improvisus, preferentially settles on smooth surfaces. Settlement and recruitment of B. improvisus was evaluated on micro-textured surfaces with scales of surface texture ranging from 1 to 100 μm in profile heights. Surface texture with profile heights within a topographic range of 30-45 μm reduced settlement and recruitment by 92% as compared to smooth surfaces. The reduction in recruitment on micro-textured surfaces is best explained by behavioural responses to surface topography. Behavioural experiments show that cyprids have a higher propensity for smooth surfaces than for micro-textured surfaces. Cyprids spend more time exploring smooth surfaces and more time swimming when exposed to micro-textured surfaces. Micro-textured surfaces are more often rejected by cyprids after exploration than smooth surfaces. It is suggested that some scales of surface texture could be exploited to improve future anti-fouling techniques in geographical areas where Balanus improvisus is a severe fouling problem. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.
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