Larval connectivity assessed with biophysical modelling and transgenerational marking

Larval connectivity assessed with biophysical modelling and transgenerational marking

Thu, 07/11/2013 - 12:00

About the Presenter

Marion Cuif bio pic

Marion Cuif graduated in a Masters of Marine Ecology and Fisheries Sciences in 2009, at AgroParisTech, the French leading Institute for Education and Research in Life Sciences, Agronomy, Food Technology and Environment. She then completed a Masters in Ecology, Biodiversity and Evolution at AgroParisTech-ENGREF in Paris in 2011.

Marion started her current PhD in 2011. Her work centres on larval connectivity in marine populations, with application to the south west lagoon of New Caledonia.


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Studying connectivity among reef ecosystems through larval dispersal is essential for answering many management and scientific questions, such as achieving effective spatial management of reef resources (e.g., marine protected areas) and understanding the spatial structuring of marine ecosystems.

However there is a significant gap between the ability to experimentally measure connectivity and the ability to model larval transport.

We studied larval transport and population connectivity of a damselfish (Dascyllus aruanus) in the South Lagoon of New Caledonia (SLNC) using two emerging and complementary approaches: microchemical analysis of artificial markers and a biophysical model of larval transport. We used the technique of transgenerational marking of embryonic otoliths in a small focal reef population of Dascyllus aruanus by injecting an enriched 137Ba isotope solution in the abdominal cavity of gravid females. Recruitment of these larvae was followed over time to determine the self-recruitment rate back to the focal reef, as well as larval export to ten neighboring habitat patches.

Parallel to this experimental analysis, we developed a biophysical model of damselfish dispersal based on passive transport in a three-dimensional dynamic ocean currents model.

Discrepancies between experimental and simulated connectivity patterns indicate the need for integrating larval behavior, such as diurnal vertical migrations, in the dispersal model.

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