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ATLAS Deliverable 1.6: Biologically realistic Lagrangian dispersal and connectivity

Fox, Alan; Gary, Stefan; Biastoch, Arne; Roberts, J Murray

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    <subfield code="a">&lt;p&gt;Larval behaviours are predicted to impact their long-term spreading, with&lt;br&gt;
wider spreading being everywhere associated with more time spent higher in&lt;br&gt;
the water column.&lt;br&gt;
The strength of this enhanced dispersal varies regionally (from strong to very&lt;br&gt;
Dispersal pathways are predicted to be affected by larval behaviour in ways&lt;br&gt;
which could influence the distribution of species.&lt;br&gt;
For deep-sea populations, the uncertainty in modelled dispersal and connectivity&lt;br&gt;
associated with vertical larval positioning in the water column is potentially&lt;br&gt;
an order of magnitude larger than that associated with pelagic larval duration&lt;br&gt;
or model hydrodynamics.&lt;br&gt;
The knowledge gaps in larval behaviour which contribute most to the uncertainty&lt;br&gt;
concern settling &amp;ndash; the age at which larvae start to sink, and the sinking&lt;br&gt;
In the absence of detailed knowledge of larval development, time-series observations&lt;br&gt;
of larval position in the water column could be used to constrain&lt;br&gt;
models, hugely reducing uncertainty in predictions.&lt;br&gt;
Under the most dispersive behaviour modelled, populations throughout the&lt;br&gt;
North Atlantic would be connected. Seamount populations may be crucial&lt;br&gt;
stepping stones in this wider connectivity.&lt;br&gt;
In the more dispersive scenarios two large-scale closed connectivity loops were&lt;br&gt;
identified, one anticlockwise around the North Atlantic basin with west-east&lt;br&gt;
return via the Azores, the second smaller loop following the sub-polar gyre.&lt;br&gt;
Even for the least dispersive behaviour modelled, populations along the continental&lt;br&gt;
slope may be connected anticlockwise around the North Atlantic, depending on the detailed habitat distribution.&lt;br&gt;
These conclusions are based on a large, systematic Lagrangian modelling experiment,&lt;br&gt;
tracking about 10 million virtual particles over 50 years in contrasting&lt;br&gt;
dynamical regimes around the North Atlantic Ocean.&lt;/p&gt;</subfield>
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