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Individual variation in marine larval-fish swimming speed and the emergence of dispersal kernels

Burgess, SC, Bode, M, Leis, JM ORCID: 0000-0003-0603-3447 and Mason, LB 2022 , 'Individual variation in marine larval-fish swimming speed and the emergence of dispersal kernels' , Oikos, vol. 2022, no. 3 , pp. 1-12 , doi:

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Dispersal emerges as a consequence of how an individual’s phenotype interacts withthe environment. Not all dispersing individuals have the same phenotype, and variationamong individuals can generate complex variation in the distribution of dispersaldistances and directions. While active locomotion performance is an obvious candidatefor a dispersal phenotype, its effects on dispersal are difficult to measure or predict,especially in small organisms dispersing in wind or currents. Therefore, we analyzedthe effects of larval swimming on dispersal and settlement of coral-reef fish larvae usinga high-resolution biophysical model. The model is, to date, the only biophysical modelof marine larval dispersal that has been statistically validated against genetic parentageestimates of larval origin and destination, and incorporates empirically-estimatedlarval behaviors and their ontogeny. Larval swimming, in combination with depth,orientation and navigation behaviors, actually reduced dispersal distances comparedto those of passive larvae. Swimming had no consistent effects on long distance dispersal,but increased the spread of settlement locations. Swimming speed, in contrast,did not consistently affect median dispersal distances, but faster swimming larvae hadgreater mean and maximum dispersal distances than slower swimming larvae. Finally,faster larval swimming speeds consistently increased the probability of settlement. Ouranalysis shows how larval swimming differentially affects multiple properties of dispersalkernels. In doing so, it indicates how selection could favor faster larval swimmingto increase settlement and local retention, which may actually result in longer dispersaldistances as a by-product of larvae trying to locate habitat rather than to dispersegreater distances.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Burgess, SC and Bode, M and Leis, JM and Mason, LB
Keywords: larval biology, dispersal, population connectivity, dispersal kernels, fisheries, conservation
Journal or Publication Title: Oikos
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
ISSN: 1600-0706
DOI / ID Number:
Copyright Information:

© 2021 The Authors. Oikos published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) License, ( which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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