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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 495:175-183 (2014)  -  DOI:

Connectivity and population repatriation: limitations of climate and input into the larval pool

Rhiannon L. Rognstad*, David S. Wethey, Thomas J. Hilbish

Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, 715 Sumter Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29208, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: We used climate-induced variation in fecundity of the barnacle Semibalanus balanoides to test the hypothesis that variation in adult input to the larval pool is a driver of connectivity among adult populations of coastal marine invertebrates. We predicted that cold winters will lead to high reproductive output and high recruitment by S. balanoides, while warm winters will result in low reproductive output and low recruitment. Following the cold winter of 2009 to 2010, larval recruitment was exceptionally high (>6 cm2) in Southwest England, resulting in a range expansion of over 100 km. The following winter was also cold, and recruitment was again high. The winter of 2011 to 2012 was warm, and recruitment was low (~1cm-2) throughout Southwest England. These data indicate that recruitment and population connectivity are strongly linked to adult input to the larval pool. We analyzed winter temperature variation over the past 3 decades and found that warm winter temperatures over the 13 yr prior to this study likely led to frequent reproductive failure and the decline of S. balanoides in Southwest England. Continued warming in this region is likely to permanently exclude S. balanoides from this portion of its geographic range. This study illustrates an important role of adult input into the larval pool in controlling population connectivity in open marine ecosystems and also implicates climate variation in determining the range limit of a significant component of coastal ecosystems in Europe.

KEY WORDS: Connectivity · Semibalanus · Climate change · Recruitment · Biogeography

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Cite this article as: Rognstad RL, Wethey DS, Hilbish TJ (2014) Connectivity and population repatriation: limitations of climate and input into the larval pool. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 495:175-183.

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