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Multi-scale recruitment patterns and effects on local population size of a temperate reef fish

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Recruitment of the temperate reef fish Coris julis was studied across the Azores Archipelago (central North Atlantic), over four consecutive recruitment seasons and at three spatial scales: between islands (separated by 100s of km), sites within islands (separated by 10s of km) and transects within sites (separated by 10s of m). At the largest scale (i.e. between islands) spatial recruitment patterns were highly variable, suggesting the influence of stochastic processes. Recruitment was spatially consistent within islands, even though magnitude was unpredictable between years, indicating that processes at meso-scales are probably more deterministic. Recruits settled randomly at the transect scale, probably reflecting habitat homogeneity. It was proposed that large and island-scale patterns reflect larval availability, driven by physical and biological processes occurring in the plankton. No evidence was found for a density-dependent relationship between newly settled and 2 week settled C. julis nor between cumulative recruitment and young-of-the-year. It appears that adult density is limited by larval supply (pre-settlement regulation) at low recruitment sites, and determined by post-settlement, density-dependent processes at high recruitment sites. This work is one of few to investigate multiple spatial and temporal scales of recruitment for a coastal fish species inhabiting isolated, temperate oceanic islands and hence, provides a novel comparison to the many studies of recruitment on coral reefs and other, more connected systems.
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Keywords: Azores; Coris julis; recruitment; reef fish; spatial and temporal variability

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Marine Science Institute, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, U.S.A. 2: IMAR/Department of Oceanography and Fisheries, University of the Azores, 9901-862 Horta, Portugal

Publication date: 2009-10-01

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