MEPS 149:35-41 (1997)  -  doi:10.3354/meps149035

Sustained swimming abilities of the late pelagic stages of coral reef fishes

Stobutzki IC, Bellwood DR

The sustained swimming abilities of the late pelagic stages of 9 families of reef fishes were measured at 13.5 cm s-1. There was a 25-fold difference in abilities among the families. Acanthurid juveniles swam on average for 194.3 h, covering the equivalent of 94.4 km. In comparison nemipterids swam for only 7.4 h, the equivalent of 3.6 km. The distances covered by other taxa ranged from 8.3 to 62.2 km. Among the families swimming ability was related to size and age but this relationship explained little of the variation present (R2 = 0.403). Our results demonstrate that the pelagic stages of reef fishes are competent swimmers and capable of actively modifying their dispersal. This has direct implications on the replenishment of reef fish populations, especially with respect to mechanisms for self-seeding and maintenance of regional biogeographical patterns.

Swimming · Dispersal · Pelagic juveniles · Reef fish · Recruitment · Self-seeding

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