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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 401:31-48 (2010)  -  DOI:

Realized and potential larval connectivity in the Southern California Bight

J. R. Watson1,*, S. Mitarai1,4, D. A. Siegel1, J. E. Caselle2, C. Dong3, J. C. McWilliams3

1Institute for Computational Earth System Science, and 2Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA
3Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA
4Present address: Marine Biophysics Unit, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Okinawa 904-0411, Japan

ABSTRACT: Populations of many nearshore marine species are connected through the dispersal of their larvae. In this paper, larval connectivity patterns in the Southern California Bight are explored using 2 quantities: potential and realized larval connectivity. Potential connectivity is defined as the probability of larval transport from a source to a destination location and is quantified using Lagrangian particle simulations. Realized connectivity is the product of potential connectivity with larval production and can be used to estimate larval settlement patterns. Potential and realized connectivity patterns are quantified for kelp bass Paralabrax clathratus, kelp rockfish Sebastes atrovirens, and red abalone Haliotis rufescens, 3 species with a range of larval dispersal characteristics. Connectivity patterns were found to be both heterogeneous, with locations having different source and destination strengths, and asymmetric, with directionality in larval transport. Both potential and realized connectivity were strongly influenced by the length and timing of the spawning season as well as planktonic larval duration. For kelp bass and kelp rockfish, a strong correspondence was found between realized and potential destination locations, suggesting that circulation processes have a dominant role in shaping the spatial distribution of these 2 species. Strong temporal variability in realized larval connectivity was observed on seasonal and inter-annual time scales (particularly between El Niño and La Niña conditions). These results provide novel information for use in marine fisheries and conservation management.

KEY WORDS: Larval connectivity · Ocean circulation · Lagrangian particle simulation · Larval production · Spatial management

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Cite this article as: Watson JR, Mitarai S, Siegel DA, Caselle JE, Dong C, McWilliams JC (2010) Realized and potential larval connectivity in the Southern California Bight. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 401:31-48.

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