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MEPS - Vol. 481- Feature article
Trace element signatures could correctly assign early stage larvae to a site of origin, but not late stage settlers. Image: Clayton Lord

Miller SH, Morgan SG, White JW, Green PG

 

Trace element signatures in larval soft tissues reveal transport, but not population connectivity

 

Understanding how benthic populations are connected through pelagic larval dispersal is key to population dynamics and managing ocean resources. Larvae of some fish and invertebrates can be tracked using trace element signatures in their calcified structures, but this is impossible for invertebrates that molt exoskeletons during development. Seeking a way around this problem, Miller and co-workers cultured crab larvae in the laboratory to test the retention of trace element signatures in soft tissues through larval development. Though larvae at the settlement stage could not be correctly identified to their site of origin, they maintained differences in trace element signatures of soft tissue, which is useful for determining how many sites contributed to a cohort of larvae or settlers.

 

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