Foraging behavior can influence dispersal of marine organisms
Limnol. Oceanogr., 52(6), 2007, 2701-2709 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2007.52.6.2701
ABSTRACT: It has become increasingly apparent that widely varying behaviors of organisms (e.g., ontogenetic depth preference, selective tidal stream transport, position maintenance) can significantly influence dispersal and connectivity between nearby populations. However, more common day-to-day behaviors, such as foraging, are often assumed to have little effect on dispersal at larger scales (tens to thousands of kilometers). In this review, we (1) place foraging within the context of current knowledge on behaviors that influence dispersal and transport, (2) provide evidence for foraging behavior as a driving mechanism of distributions, and (3) present a meta-analysis of dispersal distances estimated for three dispersal hypotheses (passive, swimming directly against currents, and foraging behavior) from 59 studies that document oceanographic conditions and in situ organism distributions. Results of the analyses reveal that when foraging and aggregative behaviors are considered, dispersal distances for larvae and zooplankton could be hundreds of kilometers less than many current dispersal estimates. Reduced transport because of foraging implies that individual populations might be more isolated than currently accepted. These findings suggest that fine-scale organism behaviors should be considered in models aimed to improve conservation efforts.