Navigation Links
Fish larvae find the reef by orienting: The earlier the better

MIAMI The behavior of marine larvae is central to fully understanding and modeling the pelagic (open ocean) stage for many coastal organisms. For the first time, a numerical study conducted by the University of Miami (UM) incorporates horizontal larval fish navigation skills into realistic 3D flow fields, creating a powerful tool that spells out how larvae use environmental cues to find their way back to the reef after being out on the open ocean. The new model uses reliable larval swimming speeds and vertical migration, known life history traits and spawning time to create realistic scenarios that can be studied in detail.

In an article entitled: "Orientation behavior in fish larvae: A missing piece to Hjort's critical period hypothesis" that appears in the latest edition of the Journal of Theoretical Biology, scientists Erica Staaterman, Claire Paris* and Judith Helgers demonstrate that despite very low swimming speeds -- approximately a few centimeters per second -- orientation behavior during early stages is critical to bringing larvae back to the juvenile habitat. The research team shows that baby reef-fish must possess, as early as possible, the ability to sense cues radiating from the habitat that help them to navigate and survive the pelagic phase.

The team used Hjort's "critical period" hypothesis, which says that fish recruitment variability is driven by the fate of the earliest larval stages, and that food and "aberrant drift" are the main factors contributing to the survivorship during this early phase. According to this hypothesis, the proportion of survivors during this "critical" larval phase is carried over throughout the entire life history of the fish's population.

"Orientation during the "critical period" appears to have remarkable demographic consequences," said UM Applied Marine Physics Professor Paris. "Larvae need to orient themselves soon after hatching to increase their chance to find any reef or to come back to their home reef. This notion of 'larval homing behavior' is a new concept, but it makes sense when compared to other essential larval developmental traits such as first feeding and swimming. If early fish larvae can sense their way home, we were certainly missing an important component in current bio-physical models that would change predictions of marine population connectivity."

"Using this model we can add to Hjorts' hypothesis that 'behavior' is a main factor contributing to the survivorship of the larvae, as well," said Staaterman, a Ph.D. student at UM. "We have discovered that recruitment of reef-fish is linked to signals perceived by the pelagic larvae; if the signals disappear or weaken, larvae can get lost. Therefore, the health of the coral reef and its cues is not only critical to the adult reef-fishes, but it is also essential to the survivorship of their pelagic larvae."

This study also shows the importance of the health of the habitat, even in complex coastal circulation with eddies and counter-currents: The stronger the cue information radiating from the surrounding habitat, the higher the survival rate of the larvae.

The flexible numerical tool that was developed through this study will allow scientists to set up hypotheses about both the nature of the cues and the larval behavior of a wide variety of marine species. This knowledge will allow us to better understand the enigmatic ecological "black box" of the pelagic larval phase, and help communities to better manage marine resources.

"These kind of studies, where the paths of millions of fish larvae are simulated in a model ocean, are really only feasible with the newest generation of numerical models," said Helgers, a computer scientist who contributed to the model algorithm which is designed to answer questions on the interaction of larvae with ocean currents. "The model we have built is fast and reliable, which allows us to perform the complex computations required to track the larvae in a high resolution model ocean."

"The outcomes of this study should serve to re-focus research on basic understanding of what larvae are capable of sensing, how they use their capabilities in the pelagic environment, and finally on the sequential importance of navigational cues needed for survival," added Paris.

Contact: Barbra Gonzalez, UM Rosenstiel School
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science

Related biology news :

1. Tracking coral larvae to understand Hawaii reef health
2. Study shows drifting fish larvae allow marine reserves to rebuild fisheries
3. Fluorescent color of coral larvae predicts whether theyll settle or swim
4. Floating spores kill malaria mosquito larvae
5. Reclamation signs research agreement to improve quagga and zebra mussel larvae detection
6. An unprecedented role reversal: Ground beetle larvae lure amphibians and prey upon them
7. Earlier global warming produced a whole new form of life
8. New research findings may enable earlier diagnosis of uterine cancer
9. Molecular fingerprints point the way to earlier cancer diagnosis and more targeted treatment
10. Fossils suggest earlier land-water transition of tetrapod
11. Genes may explain why children who live without dads have earlier sex
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Fish larvae find the reef by orienting: The earlier the better
(Date:10/1/2015)... , Oct. 1, 2015  Biometrics includes ... analysing human body characteristics, such as fingerprints, eye ... purposes. Adoption of biometrics technology has been constantly ... the last five years. In addition to the ... is fingerprint recognition, other means of biometric authentication ...
(Date:9/29/2015)... , Sept. 29, 2015  iDAvatars is excited to ... introduce its product to market. The official announcement was recently ... Economy event in San Francisco , ... platform powered by IBM Watson. "It is both ... first 100 companies to bring to market the cognitive power ...
(Date:9/28/2015)... Calif. , Sept. 28, 2015 Synaptics ... human interface solutions, today announced that Lenovo has selected ... fingerprint sensor, FS4202, for its latest smartphone, the Vibe ... password-free access to unlock the device and provide swift ... The feature-rich Natural ID FS4202 sensor solution ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/9/2015)... SAN DIEGO , Oct. 9, 2015  DePuy ... ® Flex with Q-PACK ®  Technology**, the ... use in trauma-related extremity procedures (foot and ankle, hand ... The announcement was made here at the 2015 Orthopaedic ... (provides a natural scaffold for new bone growth) ...
(Date:10/9/2015)... Arbor, Michigan (PRWEB) , ... October 09, 2015 ... ... all around us. However, the current methods of separating those cells from their ... costly, and damaging to the cells. , To address this, Ann Arbor-based startup ...
(Date:10/8/2015)... ... October 08, 2015 , ... Researchers at the University of Washington (UW) have ... a new tool to study how diseases like dementia, Alzheimer's, and brain tumors change ... Ruikang Wang of the UW Department of Bioengineering, today in the Journal of ...
(Date:10/8/2015)...  Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:  SRNE; Sorrento), a ... and associated pain, announced today that Dr. Henry Ji, President ... the Aegis Capital Corporation 2015 Growth Conference in ... 2015 Growth ConferenceDate:Friday, October 9, 2015Time:10:00 to 10:30 ... Wynn in Las Vegas, NV , ...
Breaking Biology Technology: