MEPS 489:43-59 (2013)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10432

Consequences of the life history traits of pelagic larvae on interisland connectivity during a changing climate

Matthew S. Kendall1,*, Matthew Poti1,2, Timothy T. Wynne3, Brian P. Kinlan1,2, Laurie B. Bauer1,2 

1NOAA National Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment (CCMA), Biogeography Branch, 1305 East-West Hwy, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910-3281, USA
2Consolidated Safety Services, Inc., 10301 Democracy Lane, Suite 300, Fairfax, Virginia 22030, USA
3NOAA National Ocean Service, NCCOS, CCMA, Coastal Ocean Assessments, Status, and Trends Branch,
1305 East-West Hwy, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910-3281, USA

ABSTRACT: Many coral reef organisms possess a pelagic larval phase during which some larvae are retained near spawning sites and others are dispersed to more distant locations via ocean currents. Planktonic duration, distances traveled, and recruitment success can vary due to natural development rate, mortality rate, and sensory and swimming capabilities of particular taxa. Elevated water temperatures and acidification due to climate change can also influence recruitment by generally accelerating metabolism and growth, raising mortality rate, impairing development of calcified structures, and reducing sensory capabilities. We used hydrodynamic models and drifter data to investigate these various life history and climate-related influences on larval connectivity in and around the Samoan Archipelago. In general, virtual larvae spawned in the Samoan Archipelago seeded their natal reefs with relatively short-lived larvae, and their island neighbors to the west with longer-lived larvae. Larval duration, mortality rate, and sensory zone variables all had a significant effect on connectivity. Effect size was largest for mortality rate followed by larval duration. Shortened larval longevity due to climate change reduced interisland connectivity and changed the life history traits (and therefore taxa) that result in successful connections. Islands will generally become increasingly more reliant on self-seeding as the ocean warms, although the role of most islands primarily as a source or destination was robust to climate change.


KEY WORDS: Biogeography · Climate change · Connectivity · Dispersal · Pelagic larval duration · Samoan Archipelago


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Cite this article as: Kendall MS, Poti M, Wynne TT, Kinlan BP, Bauer LB (2013) Consequences of the life history traits of pelagic larvae on interisland connectivity during a changing climate. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 489:43-59. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10432

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