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

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

Abstract:

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 coldwater corals, which are required to implement such models. Known biological traits that are important for dispersal and connectivity are therefore here summarized for cold-water corals 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 cold-water corals 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 cold-water corals as their characteristics and the physical influences that shape their population connectivity are better understood.

Johnston MW, Larsson A (in press) Perspectives of biophysical modelling with implications on biological connectivity of cold water corals in the Mediterranean. In Past, Present and Future of Mediterranean Cold‐Water Corals. Eds C. Jimenez and C. Orejas. Springer