Decadal analysis of larval connectivity from Cuban snapper (Lutjanidae) spawning aggregations based on biophysical modeling

Andrew S. Kough, Rodolfo Claro, Kenyon C. Lindeman, Claire B. Paris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Variability in environmental conditions and ocean currents can influence population connectivity and the exchange of larvae among locations. This is especially true for species that spawn in aggregations during a limited temporal window, such as many of the commercially and ecologically valuable species of snapper (Lutjanidae) in Cuba. Biophysical modeling has been used for over a decade to describe the pelagic pathways, sources, and sinks of lutjanid larvae. Here, we build on earlier studies by incorporating more advanced modeling techniques, higher resolution oceanography, and an expanded temporal scope using circulation from 2004 to 2013. Our goal was to revisit the relative linkages of Cuban snapper larvae among regions of the Cuban shelf and neighboring countries by investigating their interannual variability and spatial patterns. Biophysical simulations suggest the majority of larvae produced from snapper spawning aggregations are retained on-island, often within the region where they were spawned, with the exception of an aggregation in northwest Cuba. We used multinomial logistic regression to identify consistency in patterns of simulated biophysical larval transport, and to determine the number of years of simulation required to approximate connectivity. The best fit model correctly identified major connections from each spawning location to greater Caribbean destinations for each species. However, connections at smaller spatial scales were less predictable, and variance increased if fewer years of larval transport were considered. While the magnitude of settlement varies annually, the spatial arrangement of connectivity is relatively consistent such that modeled pathways from spawning aggregations can effectively inform connectivity planning, such as the placement of spawning reserves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-190
Number of pages16
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
StatePublished - May 25 2016


  • Biophysical modelling
  • Connectivity
  • Cuba
  • Larval dispersal
  • Lutjanidae
  • Snapper
  • Spawning aggregation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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