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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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New recruits: an acroporid coral (scale bar = 1 mm) and a crown-of-thorns starfish (scale bar: 2 mm).
Photo: Masako Nakamura and Kei Ogasawara

Nakamura M, Kumagai NH, Sakai K, Okaji K, Ogasawara K, Mitarai S


Spatial variability in recruitment of acroporid corals and predatory starfish along the Onna coast, Okinawa, Japan


Acroporid corals are one of the foundation species of Indo-Pacific coral reef ecosystems, but they are also the preferred prey for crown-of-thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci. Nakamura et al. investigated spatial variability in recruitment patterns of both prey and predator, as well as ocean current patterns during larvae dispersal periods along the Onna coast, Okinawa, Japan. In spite of differences in some life-history traits, which might affect larval dispersal and subsequent recruitment, corals and starfish showed similar recruitment patterns. Trajectories of GPS-equipped surface drifters suggest a major role for near-shore currents in determining spatial recruitment patterns. Drifters demonstrated complex surface current circulation in the study area and surrounding regions, implying complicated metapopulation dynamics.


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