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Perspectives of biophysical modelling with implications on biological connectivity of Mediterranean cold water corals

Chapter in book
Authors Matt W Johnston
Ann I. Larsson
Published in Mediterranean Cold-Water Corals: Past, Present and Future. Orejas, Covadonga, Jiménez, Carlos (Eds.)
ISBN 978-3-319-91607-1
ISSN 2213-719X
Publisher Springer
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of marine sciences
Language en
Keywords Biophysical models, connectivity, population connectivity, source-sink dynamics, modeling, larval dispersal, CWCs, life history traits
Subject categories Marine ecology


Biological connectivity of marine organisms that reproduce via planktonic larvae such as cold-water corals is regulated by reproductive and life history traits of the organism and by physical characteristics of the marine environment into which offspring are released. Connectivity across vast seascapes enables the persistence of metapopulations over ecological and evolutionary timescales and is important when planning the conservation and management of vulnerable species impacted by overfishing, habitat destruction, or invasive species. To study marine connectivity of these organisms, researchers typically measure genetic population structure or use computer modeling, the latter often using biophysical models which integrate both the physical processes of the ocean and the biological traits of the study species. Herein, a broad overview of biophysical modeling topics will be presented including source-sink dynamics and model parameterization, paradigms, uses, and examples. Unfortunately, there is limited availability of basic life history data on Mediterranean cold-water corals (CWCs), which are required to implement such models. Known biological traits that are important for dispersal and connectivity are therefore here summarized for CWCs found in the Mediterranean and elsewhere. The traits are discussed in context of dispersal potential and their potential use as parameters in biophysical modeling studies of dispersal. Very few such studies of CWCs have to date been performed and none of them in the Mediterranean, therefore as a complement global modeling examples will be given for species that reproduce in a similar fashion. It is hoped that these examples can provide insight into the future usage of biophysical modeling to study Mediterranean CWCs as their characteristics and the physical influences that shape their population connectivity are better understood.

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