Research Publications: UM-SG-RS-2014-11


Moving beyond the current paradigm in marine population connectivity: are adults the missing link?




Frisk, MG; Jordaan, A; Miller, TJ


Fish and Fisheries
15 ( 2 ) : 242 - 254




During the past century, the field of fisheries oceanography has dominated the study of population connectivity in marine environments. The influence of physical and biological processes and their relationship to transport and retention of early life history stages has been central in providing insight into population structuring and connectivity. However, the focus on dispersive early life history stages has meant that the role of adults has received less attention and is not fully understood or appreciated. We argue that adults play a vital role in population connectivity for a wide range of marine taxa and hypothesize that adult-mediated population connectivity commonly results in a diverse array of population structuring. Two case-studies on winter skate, Leucoraja ocellata, and winter flounder, Pseudopleuronectes americanus, are presented to illustrate the role adults play in marine connectivity at both broad and fine scales, respectively. Indeed, if adults are important for population connectivity, we argue that the role of larval processes is conditional on adult choice and only management and research pursuits that integrate the full life cycle of species will capture the full dynamics of metapopulation connectivity. Failure to include the roles of adults can lead to misinterpretation of the causes and consequences of changes in ecosystem structure and fisheries productivity.

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