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Keywords:

  • fish larvae;
  • light-traps;
  • seasonality;
  • environmental variables;
  • marine reserves

Abstract

  • 1.
    Larval supply to reef sites influences adult population structure, reef connectivity and conservation potential of marine reserves, but few studies have examined this topic in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO).
  • 2.
    Fish larval supply to Malindi Marine Park in Kenya was studied using light-traps for a period extending from March 2005 to June 2006. The traps caught pre-settlement fish larvae at two sites spread across the park. Catch rates (number trap−1night−1) were used to represent larval abundance and to test the influence of seasonality and habitat characteristics on larval abundance in the park.
  • 3.
    Thirty-three species of reef fish larvae in 15 families were sampled. Larval supply to the park was more diverse during the north-east monsoon season (30 species) than in the south-east monsoon season (15 species), with inter-annual variability in abundance. Higher catch rates of larvae occurred in the north-east monsoon month of March in both 2005 and 2006 and the inter-monsoon month of September 2005.
  • 4.
    Family-specific temporal variation in larval abundance showed dominance of the families Apogonidae and Caesionidae in the park, with higher abundance during the north-east monsoon months. A few families (e.g. Canthigasteridae) showed dominance during the south-east monsoon season. Regression and rank Spearman correlation analyses indicated positive correlation of chlorophyll-a with larval supply while water depth had significant negative correlation with abundance of the Apogonidae and Caesionidae.
  • 5.
    On a short-term temporal scale larval abundance in the park was highly correlated with the new moon lunar phase more than the full moon. However, on a long-term scale (16 months) larval supply to the park was significant only over a 2-month period and was correlated with environmental productivity more than ambient temperature. These results are useful in understanding the role of larval supply in structuring adult fish populations and the factors that force larval flux at reef sites.

Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.