Recent studies have shown that predator chemical cues can limit prey demographic rates such as recruitment. For instance, barnacle pelagic larvae reduce settlement where predatory dogwhelk cues are detected, thereby limiting benthic recruitment. However, adult barnacles attract conspecific larvae through chemical and visual cues, aiding larvae to find suitable habitat for development. Thus, we tested the hypothesis that the presence of adult barnacles (Semibalanus balanoides) can neutralize dogwhelk (Nucella lapillus) nonconsumptive effects on barnacle recruitment. We did a field experiment in Atlantic Canada during the 2012 and 2013 barnacle recruitment seasons (May–June). We manipulated the presence of dogwhelks (without allowing them to physically contact barnacles) and adult barnacles in cages established in rocky intertidal habitats. At the end of both recruitment seasons, we measured barnacle recruit density on tiles kept inside the cages. Without adult barnacles, the nearby presence of dogwhelks limited barnacle recruitment by 51%. However, the presence of adult barnacles increased barnacle recruitment by 44% and neutralized dogwhelk nonconsumptive effects on barnacle recruitment, as recruit density was unaffected by dogwhelk presence. For species from several invertebrate phyla, benthic adult organisms attract conspecific pelagic larvae. Thus, adult prey might commonly constitute a key factor preventing negative predator nonconsumptive effects on prey recruitment.
EPIC Alfred Wegener Institut