Numerical Simulation of Larval Dispersal and Recruitment to Coral Reefs from the Mainstream Water Circulation

by I. J. Dight, James Cook Univ of North Queensland, Townsville,
K. P. Black, James Cook Univ of North Queensland, Townsville,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '91


Coral reef systems, such as the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, are characterized by populations of fish and invertebrates that, mostly, produce offspring as pelagic larvae. Although some of these pelagic larvae may remain nearby, most will be advected off their natal reef and transported by mainstream water circulation towards other reefs. Recruitment from this larval pool is likely to structure communities and determine species distributions. The fine-scale features of water circulation around individual reefs, or groups of reefs, will then strongly influence recruitment by determining the proportion of the available larval pool which is able to settle onto a reef under particular conditions. The research presented here is a first step towards the incorporation of fine-scale particle transport around reefs into models capable of simulating the dynamics of larval dispersal over large spatial and temporal scales. Results indicate that the hydrodynamics associated with different reef shapes and sizes, and the magnitude of long-shelf and cross-shelf tidal currents may influence recruitment onto reefs. A combination of deterministic and stochastic factors are identified which may account for much of the variability in recruitment that has been documented for reef species with pelagic larvae.

Subject Headings: Numerical models | Water circulation | Reefs and sills | Tides | Hydrologic models | System analysis | Fish management | Advection | Australia

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