Williamson, David H.; Harrison, Hugo B.; Almany, Glenn R.; Berumen, Michael L.; Bode, Michael; Bonin, Mary C.; Choukroun, Severine; Doherty, Peter J.; Frisch, Ashley J.; Saenz-Agudelo, Pablo; Jones, Geoffrey P.(Molecular Ecology, Wiley, 2016-12-09)[Article]
Larval dispersal is the key process by which populations of most marine fishes and invertebrates are connected and replenished. Advances in larval tagging and genetics have enhanced our capacity to track larval dispersal, assess scales of population connectivity, and quantify larval exchange among no-take marine reserves and fished areas. Recent studies have found that reserves can be a significant source of recruits for populations up to 40 km away, but the scale and direction of larval connectivity across larger seascapes remain unknown. Here, we apply genetic parentage analysis to investigate larval dispersal patterns for two exploited coral reef groupers (Plectropomus maculatus and Plectropomus leopardus) within and among three clusters of reefs separated by 60–220 km within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Australia. A total of 69 juvenile P. maculatus and 17 juvenile P. leopardus (representing 6% and 9% of the total juveniles sampled, respectively) were genetically assigned to parent individuals on reefs within the study area. We identified both short-distance larval dispersal within regions (200 m to 50 km) and long-distance, multidirectional dispersal of up to ~250 km among regions. Dispersal strength declined significantly with distance, with best-fit dispersal kernels estimating median dispersal distances of ~110 km for P. maculatus and ~190 km for P. leopardus. Larval exchange among reefs demonstrates that established reserves form a highly connected network and contribute larvae for the replenishment of fished reefs at multiple spatial scales. Our findings highlight the potential for long-distance dispersal in an important group of reef fishes, and provide further evidence that effectively protected reserves can yield recruitment and sustainability benefits for exploited fish populations.
Bonin, Mary C.; Harrison, Hugo B.; Williamson, David H.; Frisch, Ashley J.; Saenz Agudelo, Pablo; Berumen, Michael L.; Jones, Geoffrey P.(Molecular Ecology, Wiley, 2016-01-19)[Article]
The development of parentage analysis to track the dispersal of juvenile offspring has given us unprecedented insight into the population dynamics of coral reef fishes. These tools now have the potential to inform fisheries management and species conservation, particularly for small fragmented populations under threat from exploitation and disturbance. In this study we resolve patterns of larval dispersal for a population of the anemonefish Amphiprion melanopus in the Keppel Islands (southern Great Barrier Reef). Habitat loss and fishing appear to have impacted this population and a network of no-take marine reserves currently protects 75% of the potential breeders. Using parentage analysis, we estimate that 21% of recruitment in the island group was generated locally, and that breeding adults living in reserves were responsible for 79% (31 out of 39) of these of locally-produced juveniles. Overall, the network of reserves was fully connected via larval dispersal; however one reserve was identified as a critical source of larvae for the island group. The population in the Keppel Islands also appears to be well-connected to other source populations at least 60 km away, given that 79% (145 out of 184) of the juveniles sampled remained unassigned in the parentage analysis. We estimated the effective size of the A. melanopus metapopulation to be 745 (582-993 95% CI) and recommend continued monitoring of its genetic status. Maintaining connectivity with populations beyond the Keppel Islands and recovery of local recruitment habitat, potentially through active restoration of host anemone populations, will be important for its long-term persistence.
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