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Marine Population Response to Climate Change: The Interplay of Temperature and Connectivity

Jerry Hilbish, University of South Carolina

20 October 2017

Efforts to understand the population dynamics of marine species with planktonic larvae have been stymied by the fact that the larvae recruiting to a location have little chance of originating from that site; yet, patterns of larval movement and the spatial scale of dispersal are expected to be major forces regulating the dynamics of marine populations and communities.  Furthermore, the connectivity among marine populations is potentially strongly controlled by interactions among different stages of recruitment that may effectively uncouple success from one stage to the next.  Dr. Hilbish tested the importance of adult input into the larval pool by exploiting the influence of environmental temperature on adult reproductive success.  He assessed the role of larval supply in determining recruitment at different geographic and temporal scales.  He demonstrates that larval supply is a key determinant to recruitment success and connectivity at multiple spatial scales and sets the potential for competitive interactions following settlement.  Dr. Hilbish also tests the capacity of physical transport models to predict patterns of population connectivity and whether these patterns will be altered by climate change.