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Front. Mar. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fmars.2018.00254

Biophysical simulations support schooling behavior of fish larvae throughout ontogeny

  • 1Ocean Sciences, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, United States
  • 2Department of Life Science, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
  • 3Department of Life-Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
  • 4Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat, Israel
  • 5Institute of Earth Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
  • 6Department of Computer Science, Jerusalem Institute of Technology, Israel

Schooling is very common in adult and juvenile fish, but has been rarely studied during the larval stage. Recent otolith micro-chemistry studies of coral reef fish have demonstrated that cohorts of larvae can move through similar paths and settle within a few meters one from another. However, little is known about the processes involved in the formation and maintenance of these cohorts. Here we use a biophysical modeling approach to examine whether local hydrodynamics, various individual behaviors, or larval schooling can explain cohesive patterns observed for Neopomacentrus miryae in the Gulf of Aqaba/Eilat (Red Sea), and whether schooling is feasible in terms of initial encounter probability and cohesiveness maintenance. We then examine the consequences of schooling behavior on larval settlement success and connectivity. Our results indicate that: (1) Schooling behavior is necessary for generating cohesive dispersal patterns, (2) Initial larval encounter of newly-hatched larvae is plausible, depending mainly on initial larval densities, and patchiness, And (3) schooling behavior increases the rate of larval settlement while decreasing the percentage of realized connections. Together with mounting evidence of cohesive dispersal, this numerical study demonstrates that larval schooling throughout the pelagic phase is realistic, and has a significant effect on settlement success and connectivity patterns. Future research is needed to understand the mechanisms of fission-fusion dynamics of larval cohorts and their effect on dispersal. Our findings should be considered in future efforts of larval dispersal models, specifically in the context of marine connectivity and the planning of marine protected area networks.

Keywords: larval dispersal, schooling, Cohorts, Coral reef fish larvae, cohesive dispersal, settlement, connectivity, Gulf of Aqaba/Eilat

Received: 23 Dec 2017; Accepted: 03 Jul 2018.

Edited by:

Alberto Basset, University of Salento, Italy

Reviewed by:

Ulisses M. Azeiteiro, University of Aveiro, Portugal
Kevin Sorochan, Dalhousie University, Canada  

Copyright: © 2018 Berenshtein, Paris, Gildor, Fredj, Amitai and Kiflawi. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Igal Berenshtein, BERENSHTEIN., Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Ocean Sciences, Miami, Florida, United States,