Reproductive output and duration of the pelagic larval stage determine seascape-wide connectivity of marine populations.
Connectivity among marine populations is critical for persistence of metapopulations, coping with climate change, and determining the geographic distribution of species. The influence of pelagic larval duration (PLD) on connectivity has been studied extensively, but relatively little is known about the influence of other biological parameters, such as the survival and behavior of larvae, and the fecundity of adults, on population connectivity. Furthermore, the interaction between the seascape (habitat structure and currents) and these biological parameters is unclear. We explore these interactions using a biophysical model of larval dispersal across the Indo-Pacific. We describe an approach that quantifies geographic patterns of connectivity from demographically relevant to evolutionarily significant levels across a range of species. We predict that at least 95% of larval settlement occurs within 155 km of the source population and within 13 days irrespective of the species' life history, yet long-distant connections remain likely. Self-recruitment is primarily driven by the local oceanography, larval mortality, and the larval precompetency period, whereas broad-scale connectivity is strongly influenced by reproductive output (abundance and fecundity of adults) and the length of PLD. The networks we have created are geographically explicit models of marine connectivity that define dispersal corridors, barriers, and the emergent structure of marine populations. These models provide hypotheses for empirical testing.
Treml, EA; Roberts, JJ; Chao, Y; Halpin, PN; Possingham, HP; Riginos, C
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