What makes nearshore habitats nurseries for nekton? An emerging view of the nursery role hypothesis

Litvin, Steven Y., Weinstein, Michael P., Sheaves, Marcus, and Nagelkerken, Ivan (2018) What makes nearshore habitats nurseries for nekton? An emerging view of the nursery role hypothesis. Estuaries and Coasts, 41 (6). pp. 1539-1550.

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Abstract

Estuaries and other coastal habitats are considered essential for the survival of early life stages of commercial, recreational, and other ecologically important species. While early designations simply referred to habitats with higher densities of juveniles as nurseries, the definition was improved by arguing that contribution per unit area to the production of individuals that recruit to adult populations is greater, on average, in nursery habitats. However, this and related approaches typically consider critical habitats as individual, homogeneous entities that are static in nature and do not specifically incorporate important dynamics that determine nursery function. The latter include environmental variability, estuarine hydrodynamics, trophic coupling, ontogenetic habitat shifts, and spatially explicit usage of habitat patches and corridors within larger seascapes. Subsequent studies have identified important factors that regulate nursery value, and researchers working independently across the globe have not only supported the advances made in defining the processes underlying nursery function but, as set forth in this narrative, have advanced it while suggesting that much work still needs to be done to improve our understanding of the links between juvenile nekton survival and the estuarine-coastal seascape. We discuss the current nursery role hypothesis and the data supporting (or refuting) it along with the implications for management of estuarine habitats for the conservation or restoration of nursery function.

Item ID: 55033
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1559-2731
Keywords: nursery role hypothesis, estuary, seascape, recruitment, ontogenetic migration, connectivity
Funders: United States Environmental Protection Agency, National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), United States Geological Survey, Marsh Ecology Research Program, Sea Grant, Neatherlands Organization for Scientific Research
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2018 07:41
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 100%
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