MEPS - Vol. 350 - Feature article

Gaviota State Beach, California, USA, where sand crabs Emerita analoga were sampled. Photos: J. Diehl (beach), G. Jensen (crab)

Diehl JM, Toonen RJ, Botsford LW

 

Spatial variability of recruitment in the sand crab Emerita analoga throughout California in relation to wind-driven currents

 

The paucity of knowledge regarding larval dispersal patterns impedes our understanding of the dynamics of marine metapopulations. Diehl and co-workers studied settlement patterns in the sand crab Emerita analoga and demonstrated that a single generic mechanism - retention of larvae near coastal headlands during upwelling, and subsequent transport northward during relaxation of upwelling –– determines dispersal patterns at 4 locations along the coast of California, USA. This mechanism, which is modulated by inter-annual variability in upwelling winds (i.e. by the El Niño Southern Oscillation), ensures the persistence of invertebrate populations between promontories in this part of the California Current ecosystem. Understanding this mechanism is useful in the design of marine reserves.

 

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