Connectivity through ontogeny: Fish population linkages among mangrove and coral reef habitats

David L. Jones, John F. Walter, Elizabeth N. Brooks, Joseph E. Serafy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Most evidence for ontogenetic migration of fishes from mangroves to coral reefs has been based on cross-sectional studies of <2 yr duration that have not considered annual variability in recruitment. Taking a longitudinal approach of following cohorts over time, we evaluated evidence for mangrove-derived replenishment of 10 coral reef fishes by drawing on data from 2 concurrent fish monitoring efforts conducted in Biscayne National Park, Florida, USA, over the period 1999 to 2007. Annual indices of abundance were calculated for fish estimated to be age-0 to 4+ in both habitats, and correlation analyses, with appropriate temporal lags, were performed. Statistically significant (p < 0.05; r2 = 0.30 to 0.71) correlations between juvenile abundances in mangrove habitats and adult abundances on the reef tract 1 to 2 yr later emerged for 4 species: Abudefduf saxatilis, Lutjanus apodus, L. griseus, and Sphyraena barracuda. This is one of the few longitudinal studies that uses juvenile abundance indices to test mangrove-reef ontogenetic connectivity. Our results have potential utility for nursery habitat assessment, marine reserve design, and for forecasting species-specific year-class strength on the reef, where most fishing is directed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-258
Number of pages14
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
StatePublished - 2010


  • Biscayne Bay
  • Florida Keys
  • Longitudinal study
  • Nursery habitat
  • Visual survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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