Climatic forcing and larval dispersal capabilities shape the replenishment of fishes and their habitat-forming biota on a tropical coral reef

Shaun K. Wilson, Martial Depcyznski, Rebecca Fisher, Thomas H. Holmes, Mae M. Noble, Ben T. Radford, Michael Rule, George Shedrawi, Paul Tinkler, Christopher J. Fulton

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    6 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Fluctuations in marine populations often relate to the supply of recruits by oceanic currents. Variation in these currents is typically driven by large-scale changes in climate, in particular ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation). The dependence on large-scale climatic changes may, however, be modified by early life history traits of marine taxa. Based on eight years of annual surveys, along 150 km of coastline, we examined how ENSO influenced abundance of juvenile fish, coral spat, and canopy-forming macroalgae. We then investigated what traits make populations of some fish families more reliant on the ENSO relationship than others. Abundance of juvenile fish and coral recruits was generally positively correlated with the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), higher densities recorded during La Niña years, when the ENSO-influenced Leeuwin Current is stronger and sea surface temperature higher. The relationship is typically positive and stronger among fish families with shorter pelagic larval durations and stronger swimming abilities. The relationship is also stronger at sites on the coral back reef, although the strongest of all relationships were among the lethrinids (r = .9), siganids (r = .9), and mullids (r = .8), which recruit to macroalgal meadows in the lagoon. ENSO effects on habitat seem to moderate SOI-juvenile abundance relationship. Macroalgal canopies are higher during La Niña years, providing more favorable habitat for juvenile fish and strengthening the SOI effect on juvenile abundance. Conversely, loss of coral following a La Niña-related heat wave may have compromised postsettlement survival of coral dependent species, weakening the influence of SOI on their abundance. This assessment of ENSO effects on tropical fish and habitat-forming biota and how it is mediated by functional ecology improves our ability to predict and manage changes in the replenishment of marine populations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1918-1928
    JournalEcology and Evolution
    Volume8
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018

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    El Nino
    El Nino-Southern Oscillation
    coral reefs
    coral reef
    biota
    Southern Oscillation
    corals
    coral
    oscillation
    organisms
    habitat
    fish
    habitats
    canopy
    climate change
    oceanic current
    tropical fish
    spit
    life history trait
    surface temperature

    Cite this

    Wilson, Shaun K. ; Depcyznski, Martial ; Fisher, Rebecca ; Holmes, Thomas H. ; Noble, Mae M. ; Radford, Ben T. ; Rule, Michael ; Shedrawi, George ; Tinkler, Paul ; Fulton, Christopher J. / Climatic forcing and larval dispersal capabilities shape the replenishment of fishes and their habitat-forming biota on a tropical coral reef. In: Ecology and Evolution. 2018 ; Vol. 8, No. 3. pp. 1918-1928.
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    abstract = "Fluctuations in marine populations often relate to the supply of recruits by oceanic currents. Variation in these currents is typically driven by large-scale changes in climate, in particular ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation). The dependence on large-scale climatic changes may, however, be modified by early life history traits of marine taxa. Based on eight years of annual surveys, along 150 km of coastline, we examined how ENSO influenced abundance of juvenile fish, coral spat, and canopy-forming macroalgae. We then investigated what traits make populations of some fish families more reliant on the ENSO relationship than others. Abundance of juvenile fish and coral recruits was generally positively correlated with the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), higher densities recorded during La Ni{\~n}a years, when the ENSO-influenced Leeuwin Current is stronger and sea surface temperature higher. The relationship is typically positive and stronger among fish families with shorter pelagic larval durations and stronger swimming abilities. The relationship is also stronger at sites on the coral back reef, although the strongest of all relationships were among the lethrinids (r = .9), siganids (r = .9), and mullids (r = .8), which recruit to macroalgal meadows in the lagoon. ENSO effects on habitat seem to moderate SOI-juvenile abundance relationship. Macroalgal canopies are higher during La Ni{\~n}a years, providing more favorable habitat for juvenile fish and strengthening the SOI effect on juvenile abundance. Conversely, loss of coral following a La Ni{\~n}a-related heat wave may have compromised postsettlement survival of coral dependent species, weakening the influence of SOI on their abundance. This assessment of ENSO effects on tropical fish and habitat-forming biota and how it is mediated by functional ecology improves our ability to predict and manage changes in the replenishment of marine populations.",
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    Climatic forcing and larval dispersal capabilities shape the replenishment of fishes and their habitat-forming biota on a tropical coral reef. / Wilson, Shaun K.; Depcyznski, Martial; Fisher, Rebecca; Holmes, Thomas H.; Noble, Mae M.; Radford, Ben T.; Rule, Michael; Shedrawi, George; Tinkler, Paul; Fulton, Christopher J.

    In: Ecology and Evolution, Vol. 8, No. 3, 02.2018, p. 1918-1928.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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    AU - Depcyznski, Martial

    AU - Fisher, Rebecca

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