Changing Chilean coastal currents could drive aquatic evolution


  • Colin Schultz


For invertebrate and fish species that spend most of their lives in rich coastal waters rather than migrating freely throughout the open ocean, the formation of island populations and the associated risk of genetic diversity loss are threats to long-term population health. Many species cope through a spawning mechanism whereby larvae are released en masse into near-shore ocean currents, like pollen adrift in the wind. The larvae are viable in open waters from days to months, but only those that find their way back to shore can settle and develop. To increase their chances, different species' larvae often use particular swimming behaviors, for example, varying their depth in the water column throughout the day.