How to Distinguish from Similar Species: There is a pelagic goose barnacle, Lepas anatifera, frequently found in the Pacific Northwest that looks somewhat similar to M. polymerus, however is has fewer plates and only occurs in the open sea and on driftwood washed ashore. There is a closely related European species, Pollicipes pollicipes, which is cooked and served as a delicacy. However, it is now in short supply and M. polymerus has been exported from British Columbia to Portugal and Spain.
Geographical Range: This species of barnacle is found as far north as Southeast Alaska to Baja California in the south.
Depth Range: P. polymerus occurs in the high to middle intertidal zones.
Habitat: This barnacle prefers open, surf-swept coastlines. It has also been reported to occur on other barnacles on the skin of Humpback Whales.
feeds by growing outward so that it can extend its cirri
in a fan oriented perpendicular to the backwash of the waves.
particles of detritus and tiny crustaceans get caught in the cirri,
are subsequently eaten. Predators of M. polymerus include
sea star (Pisaster ochraceus) and the
Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus
M. polymerus directly competes with the California
Mussel (Mytilus californianus) and can
often out-compete them, but they are more vulnerable to predation by
often grows in tight bunches (rosettes) which make them more
resistant to predation. In the Puget Sound, Goose Neck
breed from April to October, peaking in July. Individuals are
but will always cross-fertilize. Each sexually mature
may produce up to four broods per year, with up to 20,000 developed
per brood. The young aggregate at the base of the adults,
survival rate increases. Within one month they are able to
independence. Current research includes energy flow within
containing M. polymerus and the accumulation of
toxins within the
Kozloff, 1987, 1996.
Smith and Carlton, 1975
Newman, W.A., 1992. Biotic cognates of eastern boundary conditions in the Pacific and Atlantic: Relicts of Tethys and climatic change. Proceedings of the San Diego Society of Natural History 16: 1-7
Newman, W.A. and J.S. Killingsley, 1985. The north-east Pacific intertidal barnacle Pollicipes polymerus in India? a biogeographical enigma elucidated by 18O fractionation in barnacle calcite. Journal of Natural History 19(6): 1191-1196
Wootton, J.T., 1993. Size-dependent competition--effects on the dynamics vs the end-point of mussel bed succession. Ecology 74:1 pp. 195-206
General Notes and Observations: Locations, abundances, unusual behaviors, etc.:
Authors and Editors of Page:
Melissa McFadden (2002): Created original page
Edited by Hans Helmstetler: 10-2002
Edited by Dave Cowles, 2005, 2007