[Coral-List] New manuscript on life history traits and modeled dispersal

sarah davies daviessw at gmail.com
Tue May 9 09:55:37 EDT 2017

Hello Coral-Listers,

We would like to draw your attention to our new manuscript titled "Modeled
differences of coral life-history traits influence the refugium potential
of a remote Caribbean reef" published recently in Coral Reefs. It features
work we completed at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
on *Pseudodiploria
strigosa *and *Orbicella spp. *


Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions.

Sarah Davies and Marie Strader on behalf of all co-authors

Abstract: Remote populations can influence connectivity and may serve as
refugia from climate change. We investigated two reef-building corals
strigosa *and *Orbicella franksi*) from the Flower Garden Banks (FGB), the
most isolated, high-latitude Caribbean reef system, which, until recently,
retained high coral cover. We characterized coral size-frequency
distributions, quantified larval mortality rates and onset of competence ex
situ, estimated larval production, and created detailed biophysical models
incorporating these parameters to evaluate the source–sink dynamics at the
FGB from 2009 to 2012. Estimated mortality rates were similar between
species, but pre-competency differed dramatically; *P. strigosa* was
capable of metamorphosis within 2.5 d post-fertilization (dpf) and was
competent at least until 8 dpf, while O. *franksi *was not competent until
>20 dpf and remained competent up to 120 dpf. To explore the effect of such
contrasting life histories on connectivity, we modeled larval dispersal
from the FGB assuming pelagic larval durations (PLD) of either 3–20 d,
approximating laboratory-measured pre-competency of* P. strigosa*, or
20–120 d, approximating pre-competency observed in *O. franksi*.
Surprisingly, both models predicted similar probabilities of local
retention at the FGB, either by direct rapid reseeding or via long-term
persistence in the Loop Current with larvae returning to the FGB within a
month. However, our models predicted that short PLDs would result in
complete isolation from the rest of the Caribbean, while long PLDs allowed
for larval export to more distant northern Caribbean reefs, highlighting
the importance of quantifying larval pre-competency dynamics when
parameterizing biophysical models to predict larval connectivity. These
simulations suggest that FGB coral populations are likely to be largely
self-sustaining and highlight the potential of long-PLD corals, such as
endangered *Orbicella*, to act as larval sources for other degraded
Caribbean reefs.

Sarah W. Davies M.Sc. Ph.D.
Simons Foundation Fellow of the Life Sciences Research Foundation
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Department of Marine Sciences
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
daviessw at gmail.com

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