Project Summary

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The goal of this project is to develop a tractable modeling framework for estimating marine metapopulation connectivity and its demographic consequences. This will be achieved by utilizing a highly integrated multifaceted approach which draws upon gravity, demographic, and biological- hydrodynamic coupled models. The project has specific objectives to accomplish this goal: (1) Determine reliable predictors of population connectivity from a range of habitat and oceanographic metrics that influence larval dispersal and settlement. The predictive ability of these metrics will be assessed through the development of gravity models which incorporate both natal and settlement site attributes as well as “distance” functions derived from habitat distributions and biological- hydrodynamic coupled models which describe how dispersal probability declines with travel time. (2) Evaluate the robustness of these prediction measures and different forms of the gravity model at various temporal and spatial scales to examine their potential suitability for a broad range of marine metapopulations. (3) Develop matrix metapopulation models to improve our understanding of how physical oceanographic processes and dispersal behavior influence the dynamics and spatial connectivity of marine metapopulations.

Extensive research of spatial recruitment patterns across a no-take marine reserve network in Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea, will provide the key empirical data necessary for developing and evaluating a comprehensive modeling framework for estimating metapopulation connectivity in marine communities where direct estimation of larval dispersal and settlement patterns often remains intangible. These efforts will be guided by DNA parentage and transgenerational isotope labeling research of two coral reef fishes with different life histories and habitat usage. These extensive datasets represent the most spatially expansive analysis of recruitment patterns to date and will allow evaluation of modeling approaches across multiple spatial and temporal scales in order to create a general modeling framework which is both empirically relevant and adaptable to other marine metapopulations with less a priori knowledge of population connectivity.


  This project is funded by NSF Biological and Physical Oceanography Divisions


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Last updated August 22, 2011
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