Estimating dispersal potential for marine larvae: dynamic models applied to scleractinian corals

Connolly, Sean R., and Baird, Andrew H. (2010) Estimating dispersal potential for marine larvae: dynamic models applied to scleractinian corals. Ecology, 91 (12). pp. 3572-3583.

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Dispersal influences ecological dynamics, evolution, biogeography, and biodiversity conservation, but models of larval dispersal in marine organisms make simplifying assumptions that are likely to approximate poorly the temporal dynamics of larval survival and capacity for settlement. In particular, larval mortality rates are typically assumed to be constant throughout larval life; and all larvae are frequently assumed to acquire and lose competence at the same time. To improve upon these assumptions, we here develop simple models of dispersal potential that incorporate rates of mortality, and acquisition and loss of settlement competence. We fit these models to empirical competence and survival data for five scleractinian coral species, to test the models' ability to characterize empirical survival and competence patterns, and to estimate the dispersal potential implied by those patterns. The models fit the data well, incorporating qualitative features of competence and survival that traditional approaches to modeling dispersal do not, with important implications for dispersal potential. Most notably, there was high within-cohort variation in the duration of the competent period in all species, and this variation increases both self-recruitment and long-distance dispersal compared with models assuming a fixed competent period. These findings help to explain the seeming paradox of high genetic population structure, coupled with large geographic range size, observed in many coral species. More broadly, our approach offers a way to parsimoniously account for variation in competence dynamics in dispersal models, a phenomenon that our results suggest has important effects on patterns of connectivity in marine metapopulations

Item ID: 15364
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1939-9170
Keywords: connectivity, coral reefs, dispersal model, larval settlement, larval survival
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Reproduced with permission from Ecological Society of America (ESA).

Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2011 02:22
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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