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Cuif, M., Kaplan, D. M., Lefèvre, J., Faure, V. M., Caillaud, M., Verley, P., et al. (2014). Wind-induced variability in larval retention in a coral reef system: a biophysical modelling study in the South-West Lagoon of New Caledonia. Progress in Oceanography, 122, 105–115.
Résumé: In the present work, a biophysical dispersal model is used to understand the role of the physical environment in determining reef fish larval dispersal patterns in the South-West Lagoon of New Caledonia. We focus on a reef fish species, the humbug damselfish Dascyllus aruanus, to investigate seasonal variability of simulated larval retention at the scale of a reef patch and at the scale of the lagoon, and to explore links between larval retention and wind variability. The model shows that retention exhibits considerable temporal variability and periodically reaches values much larger than anticipated. Non-zero larval settlement occurs over a large part of the lagoon. Nevertheless, settlement values decrease quickly away from the natal reef and mean dispersal distances are of order 25-35 km. Cross-correlation analyses indicate that weather conditions characterized by strong south east trade winds lead to low retention rates at both local (reef) and regional (lagoon) scales. By contrast, subtropical weather conditions characterized by weak winds result in high retention rates. These results suggest that large-scale weather regimes can be used as proxies for larval retention of the humbug damselfish in the South-West Lagoon of New Caledonia. Nevertheless, relatively small mean dispersal distances suggest that meta-population dynamics occur on relatively small spatial scales.