Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom

The invasion of the acorn barnacle Balanus glandula in the south-western Atlantic 40 years later

Evangelina  Schwindt a1
a1 Centro Nacional Patagónico (CENPAT-CONICET), Blvd. Brown 2825, Puerto Madryn (9120), Argentina. E-mail:

Article author query
schwindt e   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


The acorn barnacle Balanus glandula (Darwin 1854) is native to the Pacific coast of North America and was accidentally introduced in Argentina in the early 1970s. Here the invasion status of this species is reviewed in the south-western Atlantic focusing on geographical patterns of density, cover, biomass, size and recruitment, and also estimating its rate of spread. Field surveys along rocky shores and a literature review show that B. glandula invaded most of the rocky shores of Argentina at a high rate of spread. Density and cover of barnacles do not follow a latitudinal trend; instead both variables show a bimodal pattern with the highest values in two distant locations (Puerto Lobos and Bahía Bustamante). However, the size of the barnacles increases with latitude, and is positively related to biomass. Recruitment of this species varies between wave exposed and protected areas, and over time. At lower latitudes barnacles recruit in winter, while at higher latitudes they recruit in spring and summer. The differences observed in density and recruitment suggest that along the Argentinean coast, oceanographic processes have a stronger influence in the distribution and success of the barnacles than the gradient in wave exposure. Balanus glandula is a successful invader which has completely re-shaped the native intertidal landscape. Moreover, considering the wide temperature range that this barnacle tolerates in native and invaded regions, the entire coastline of South America could be colonized by this species in the future.

(Published Online October 18 2007)
(Received December 26 2006)
(Accepted May 9 2007)