Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Davis

UC Davis Previously Published Works bannerUC Davis

Shoreward swimming boosts modeled nearshore larval supply and pelagic connectivity in a coastal upwelling region


Larval transport by marine organisms is regulated by a combination of vertical swimming behavior and seasonal reproductive timing, but recent studies suggest horizontal swimming behaviors may also be important. Larvae in highly productive coastal upwelling regions are especially vulnerable to offshore transport and must employ effective dispersal “strategies” to return onshore to suitable settlement sites. Using a primitive-equation numerical model, we investigate how horizontal swimming affects nearshore larval supply and potential settlement and connectivity during climatological spring and summer in central California, a region of persistent coastal upwelling within the California Current System. The addition of shoreward swimming with speeds of 1–7 cm s−1 increases nearshore larval supply by a factor of 1.4–13, depending on the speed, timing of its onset, and the vertical swimming behavior of the larvae, which included both diel and ontogenetic vertical migrations. Nearshore larval supply increases approximately linearly with swimming speed integrated over the pelagic larval duration. While pelagic connectivity increases with shoreward swimming for all vertical behaviors investigated, spatial patterns of connectivity, when standardized by nearshore larval supply, are similar with and without horizontal behavior. Onshore swimming broadens the alongshore extent of areas that can act as effective source regions in central California, increasing potential dispersal distances 11–26%. A related statistic, the reverse pelagic connectivity, reveals Monterey Bay and the Gulf of the Farallones as important source regions that should be considered when adaptively managing California's network of marine protected areas.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View