Larval connectivity plays as critical role in maintaining viable coral populations; however, the variability in larval dispersal over decadal timescales is poorly understood. We examine variability in reef connectivity in the Coral Triangle following April and September spawning over a nearly 50-year period (1960-2006) using a 5-km resolution Regional Ocean Modeling System developed for the Coral Triangle (CT-ROMS) and a Lagrangian particle-tracking tool (TRACMASS). We found that potential connectivity in the CT is highly variable, emphasizing the importance of simulations that are at least 20 years long for identifying connectivity patterns and thus management targets. This connectivity variability is driven primarily by stochasticity in surface currents, though the impacts of ENSO and the IOD on the South Equatorial Current also play an important role. Although mean potential connectivity over the 47-year simulation suggests that reefs in this region are primarily self-seeded, exceptions highlight important source and sink regions and pathways for recovery following disturbance. The spatial pattern of “subpopulations” based solely on the physical drivers of connectivity between reefs closely match major phylogenetic lines and regional patterns of biodiversity, suggesting that physical barriers to larval dispersal may be a key driver of reef biodiversity. 21st Century simulations driven by the Community Earth System Model RCP8.5 scenario suggest that these major barriers to larval dispersal persist into the future, despite some regional changes in reef connectivity.


Thompson, D. M., Boston University, USA, thompsod@bu.edu

Kleypas, J., National Center for Atmospheric Research, USA, kleypas@ucar.edu

Castruccio, F., National Center for Atmospheric Research, USA, fredc@ucar.edu

Watson, J., Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden, james.watson@su.se

Curchitser, E., Rutgers University, USA, enrique@esm.rutgers.edu

Pinsky, M., Rutgers University, USA, malin.pinsky@rutgers.edu


Oral presentation

Session #:15
Date: 06/23/2016
Time: 15:30
Location: 317 A/B

Presentation is given by student: No