Coastal fronts set recruitment and connectivity patterns across multiple taxa

C. BWoodson, M. A. McManus, J. A. Tyburczy, J. A. Barth, L. Washburn, J. E. Caselle, M. H. Carr, D. P. Malone, P. T. Raimondi, B. A. Menge and S. R. Palumbi

Limnol. Oceanogr., 57(2), 2012, 582-596 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2012.57.2.0582

ABSTRACT: We show that ocean fronts set recruitment patterns among both community-building invertebrates and commercially important fishes in nearshore intertidal and rocky reef habitats. Chlorophyll concentration and recruitment of several species of intertidal invertebrates (Balanus spp., Chthamalus spp., Mytilus spp.) and rockfishes (Sebastes spp.) are positively correlated with front probability along the coast of the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem. Abundances of recent settlers and adults for nearshore rockfish species are also positively correlated with front probability. The interaction of coastal topography and bathymetry sets spatial scales of fronts and consequently recruitment at approximately 50 km during active upwelling, compared to 200 km or greater during non-upwelling periods. Such relationships between fronts and recruitment are likely to be consistent across other marine ecosystems—from coastal waters to the open ocean—and provide a critical link between adults and widely dispersing young. Ocean fronts, already known as features with high biodiversity and resilience in pelagic habitats, also set recruitment and connectivity patterns across multiple taxa for intertidal and rocky reef communities, thus linking biodiversity and resilience in coastal and benthic habitats as well.

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