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Exploration Of The “larval Pool”: Development And Ground-truthing Of A Larval Transport Model Off Leeward Hawai‘i

J. Wren, D. Kobayashi
Published 2016 · Biology, Medicine

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Most adult reef fish show site fidelity thus dispersal is limited to the mobile larval stage of the fish, and effective management of such species requires an understanding of the patterns of larval dispersal. In this study, we assess larval reef fish distributions in the waters west of the Big Island of Hawai‘i using both in situ and model data. Catches from Cobb midwater trawls off west Hawai‘i show that reef fish larvae are most numerous in offshore waters deeper than 3,000 m and consist largely of pre-settlement Pomacanthids, Acanthurids and Chaetodontids. Utilizing a Lagrangian larval dispersal model, we were able to replicate the observed shore fish distributions from the trawl data and we identified the 100 m depth strata as the most likely depth of occupancy. Additionally, our model showed that for larval shore fish with a pelagic larval duration longer than 40 days there was no significant change in settlement success in our model. By creating a general additive model (GAM) incorporating lunar phase and angle we were able to explain 67.5% of the variance between modeled and in situ Acanthurid abundances. We took steps towards creating a predictive larval distribution model that will greatly aid in understanding the spatiotemporal nature of the larval pool in west Hawai‘i, and the dispersal of larvae throughout the Hawaiian archipelago.
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