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Free Content Recruitment Dynamics of Reef Fishes: Planktonic Processes, Settlement and Demersal Ecologies, and Fishery Analysis

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Factors influencing variability of recruitment in coral reef fishes are of great theoretical and applied interest for population dynamics, oceanography, and fishery management. Due to the complexities of evaluating the many factors influencing recruitment processes throughout the life history of meroplanktonic organisms, recruitment is often an umbrella-term encompassing interrelated problems in a management sense, but largely distinct biological processes or events. Research primarily addresses factors determining: (1) survivorship of cohorts of planktonic larvae; (2) temporal and spatial patterns of demersal settlement from the plankton; and (3) natural and fishing mortality of adult and juvenile cohorts.

Current and early research representing a variety of approaches to the recruitment dynamics of reef-associated fishes is examined. Absolute survivorship during planktonic life stages is a function of parental abundance and fecundity, and highly complex interactions among predation, oceanographic processes, growth and starvation. A matrix outlining the relative effects of important biotic and abiotic factors upon the survivorship of egg through adult life history stages is developed. Larval maneuvering behaviors which utilize specific physical features (e.g., fronts, internal waves) may be exceedingly important mechanisms for influencing transport and reducing mortality. Variability in numbers oflarvae surviving through settlement can be the ultimate determinant of adult population sizes. In long-lived commercially exploited species, mortality on juvenile life stages also may significantly impact stock sizes. Variations in recruitment may also contribute to significant species composition shifts within both virgin and exploited reef fish communities.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 1987

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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