Dr. Thomas M. (Zack) Powell, Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology, UC, Berkeley
- Aquatic ecology & fish
- Lakes, estuaries, ocean
- Planktonic ecosystems
- Remote sensing
"Coral Larval Connectivity in the South China Sea: a Model Example for Acropora millepora from Reefs in the Spratly Islands"
The Spratly Island archipelago is a remote network of coral reefs and islands in the South China Sea that is a likely source of coral larvae to the region, but about which little is known. Using a particle-tracking model driven by oceanographic data from the Coral Triangle region, we simulated both spring and fall spawning events of Acropora millepora, a common coral species, over a 46-year period (1960 – 2005). Simulated population biology of A. millepora included the acquisition and loss of competency, settlement if over appropriate benthic habitat, and mortality based on experimental data. Our results focus on connectivity of reefs within the Spratly Islands, the settlement of larvae on reefs of the greater South China Sea, and the potential dispersal range of reef organisms of the Spratly Islands. Results suggest that the western Spratly Islands have limited source reefs supplying them with larvae and due to the direction of ocean currents and then isolation, less of their larvae successfully settle on other reefs. The Spratly Islands are a significant source of A. millepora larvae for Palawan Island (Phillipines) and some of the most isolated reefs of the South China Sea. Examination of particle dispersal without biology (settlement and mortality) indicates that larval connectivity is possible throughout the South China Sea and into the Coral Triangle region. Seasonal differences in larval connectivity and dispersal were also observed in the results. Future management of the Spratly Islands should consider their importance as a source for these regions.
If you are interested in talking with Dr. Powell, please contact Shellby Miller.