Scale-dependent changes in the importance of larval supply and habitat to abundance of a reef fish

J Wilson White, Jennifer E Caselle


While there is great interest in the degree to which local interactions "scale-up" to predict regional patterns of abundance, few studies in marine systems have simultaneously examined patterns of abundance at both the large scale (tens of kilometers) typical of larval movement and the small scale (meters) typical of post-settlement interactions. We addressed this gap by monitoring larval supply, adult survivorship, and giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera, a primary habitat-forming species) abundance for 13 populations of kelp bass (Paralabrax clathratus) spread over approximately 200 km in the Santa Barbara Channel, California, USA. At the small, within-site scale, both recruitment and adult survivorship of kelp bass were density-dependent and positively related to kelp abundance. At the larger, among-site scale, the spatial pattern of adult kelp bass abundance was predicted well by the pattern of kelp bass larval supply, but there was a consistent negative spatial relationship between kelp abundance and kelp bass larval supply despite the positive effects of kelp on kelp bass at the smaller spatial scale. This large-scale negative relationship was likely a product of a channel-wide spatial mismatch between oceanographic conditio...Continue Reading


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