School seminar series: Marine fish nurseries - baby paradise or Hobson's choice?

24 May 2013

Presented by A/Prof. Ivan Nagelkerken, Marine Biology, University of Adelaide.

Various animal species show a stage-structured life cycle where individuals occupy spatially separated juvenile and adult habitats during different life phases. In the marine seascape one such example is that of fish species which use mangrove and seagrass habitats as juvenile nurseries and live as adults on coral reefs. While the appreciation for this phenomenon has increased significantly over the last two decades, empirical data that provide an understanding of the underlying mechanisms are still largely lacking. We still know little about the way in which settlement-stage oceanic fish larvae locate and navigate towards inshore nursery habitats, the costs and benefits of such a life-history strategy, what triggers movement from nurseries to the adult habitat, and the degree to which these fish replenish adult populations and colonize distantreefs. The latter has important consequences for management of fish stocks and marine reserve design. During this presentation, recent advances in this field will be presented, based on a variety of laboratory and field experiments using a range of research methods (e.g., habitat choice experiments, stable isotopes, modeling). In contrast to the general belief, use of specific nursery habitats is based on trade-offs between various life history traits. Nevertheless, maintenance of ecosystem connectivity is important for successful replenishment of populations of a variety of economically and ecologically important species and can enhance the functioning, productibility, and resilience of coastal marine ecosystems.

Time: 1-2pm

Location: DT Anderson Lecture Theatre, A08