Increased local retention of reef coral larvae as a result of ocean warming

Figueiredo, Joana, Baird, Andrew, Harii, Saki, and Connolly, Sean R. (2014) Increased local retention of reef coral larvae as a result of ocean warming. Nature Climate Change, 4 (6). pp. 498-502.

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Climate change will alter many aspects of the ecology of organisms, including dispersal patterns and population connectivity(1). Understanding these changes is essential to predict future species distributions, estimate potential for adaptation, and design effective networks of protected areas(2). In marine environments, dispersal is often accomplished by larvae. At higher temperatures, larvae develop faster(3-5), but suffer higher mortality(4-6), making the effect of temperature on dispersal difficult to predict. Here, we experimentally calibrate the effect of temperature on larval survival and settlement in a dynamic model of coral dispersal. Our findings imply that most reefs globally will experience several-fold increases in local retention of larvae due to ocean warming. This increase will be particularly pronounced for reefs with mean water residence times comparable to the time required for species to become competent to settle. Higher local retention rates strengthen the link between abundance and recruitment at the reef scale, suggesting that populations will be more responsive tolocal conservation actions. Higher rates of local retention and mortality will weaken connectivity between populations, and thus potentially retard recovery following severe disturbances that substantially deplete local populations. Conversely, on isolated reefs that are dependent on replenishment from local broodstock, increases in local retention may hasten recovery.

Item ID: 34090
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1758-678X
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC DP110101168, ARC DP0880544
Research Data:
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2014 09:12
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change @ 30%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0699 Other Biological Sciences > 069902 Global Change Biology @ 30%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 40%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960307 Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Australia (excl. Social Impacts) @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960310 Global Effects of Climate Change and Variability (excl. Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and the South Pacific) @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 40%
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