Hydrodynamic forces imposed by ocean waves are thought to limit the size of nearshore plants and animals, but it has proved difficult to determine the mechanism. Explanations based on the scaling mismatch between hydrodynamic accelerational forces and the strength of organisms do not work. Mechanisms that incorporate the allometry of drag and strength accurately predict the maximal size of intertidal algae but not of animals, and internally imposed inertial forces may explain the limits to size in large kelps. The general question of size in wave-swept organisms remains open and intriguing.
- © 1999 by Company of Biologists