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Biol Bull. 2009 Jun;216(3):257-72.

Quantifying the "bio-" components in biophysical models of larval transport in marine benthic invertebrates: advances and pitfalls.

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  • 1Department of Oceanography, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4J1, Canada.


Biophysical models are being used increasingly, both as predictive tools of larval dispersal for a particular system and for general evaluation of the role of different factors in larval transport. In the results of such models, larval duration, mortality, and behavior in the water column have exhibited pronounced effects on larval dispersal of marine benthic invertebrates. The parameterization of these processes has broadly reflected values from laboratory experiments, but the accuracy of these values is unknown. The pelagic larval duration used in models should be determined by laboratory, or preferably field, studies and should incorporate environmentally dependent variability. For mortality, in situ estimates are now feasible and, likely, more accurate than the currently used values. Larval behavior can be measured in the field, by high-frequency sampling of distributional changes relative to features in the water column or by controlled larval releases in tractable systems. To successfully validate the outcomes of these models, we must either improve our techniques for measuring larval abundance at the end of larval transport immediately before settlement, or incorporate components for settlement into the models. We must also address the mismatch in sampling resolution between biological and physical processes. If used with caution, this powerful approach can significantly advance our understanding of larval transport.

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