The study of organism dispersal is fundamental for elucidating patterns of connectivity between populations, thus crucial for the design of effective protection and management strategies. This is especially challenging in the case of coastal fish, for which information on egg release zones (i.e. spawning grounds) is often lacking. Here we assessed the putative location of egg release zones of the saddled sea bream (Oblada melanura) along the south-eastern coast of Spain in 2013. To this aim, we hindcasted propagule (egg and larva) dispersal using Lagrangian simulations, fed with species-specific information on early life history traits (ELTs), with two approaches: 1) back-tracking and 2) comparing settler distribution obtained from simulations to the analogous distribution resulting from otolith chemical analysis. Simulations were also used to assess which factors contributed the most to dispersal distances. Back-tracking simulations indicated that both the northern sector of the Murcia region and some traits of the North-African coast were hydrodynamically suitable to generate and drive the supply of larvae recorded along the coast of Murcia in 2013. With the second approach, based on the correlation between simulation outputs and field results (otolith chemical analysis), we found that the oceanographic characteristics of the study area could have determined the pattern of settler distribution recorded with otolith analysis in 2013 and inferred the geographical position of main O. melanura spawning grounds along the coast. Dispersal distance was found to be significantly affected by the geographical position of propagule release zones. The combination of methods used was the first attempt to assess the geographical position of propagule release zones in the Mediterranean Sea for O. melanura, and can represent a valuable approach for elucidating dispersal and connectivity patterns in other coastal species.
|Numero di pagine||12|
|Rivista||Marine Environmental Research|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2018|
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