Recent progress in understanding larval dispersal: new directions and digressions

Citation:
Levin, LA.  2006.  Recent progress in understanding larval dispersal: new directions and digressions. Integrative and Comparative Biology. 46:282-297.

Date Published:

Jun

Keywords:

benthic invertebrates, coral-reef fish, gene flow, marine invertebrate larvae, pacific hydrothermal vents, plasma-mass spectrometry, self-recruitment, supply-side ecology, temporal, trace-elements, variation

Abstract:

Larvae have been difficult to study because their small size limits our ability to understand their behavior and the conditions they experience. Questions about larval transport focus largely on (a) where they go [dispersal] and (b) where they come from [connectivity]. Mechanisms of transport have been intensively studied in recent decades. As our ability to identify larval sources develops, the consequences of connectivity are garnering more consideration. Attention to transport and connectivity issues has increased dramatically in the past decade, fueled by changing motivations that now include management of fisheries resources, understanding of the spread of invasive species, conservation through the design of marine reserves, and prediction of climate-change effects. Current progress involves both technological advances and the integration of disciplines and approaches. This review focuses on insights gained from physical modeling, chemical tracking, and genetic approaches. I consider how new findings are motivating paradigm shifts concerning (1) life-history consequences; (2) the openness of marine populations, self-recruitment, and population connectivity; (3) the role of behavior; and (4) the significance of variability in space and time. A challenge for the future will be to integrate methods that address dispersal on short (intragenerational) timescales such as elemental fingerprinting and numerical simulations with those that reflect longer timescales such as gene flow estimates and demographic modeling. Recognition and treatment of the continuum between ecological and evolutionary timescales will be necessary to advance the mechanistic understanding of larval and population dynamics.

Notes:

n/a

Website

DOI:

10.1093/icb/024