Predicting the oceanic dispersal of planktonic larvae that connect scattered marine animal populations is difficult, yet crucial for management of species whose movements transcend international boundaries. Using multi-scale biophysical modeling techniques coupled with empirical estimates of larval behavior and gamete production, we predict and empirically verify spatio-temporal patterns of larval supply and describe the Caribbean-wide pattern of larval connectivity for the Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus), an iconic coral reef species whose commercial value approaches $1 billion USD annually. Our results provide long sought information needed for international cooperation in the management of marine resources by identifying lobster larval connectivity and dispersal pathways throughout the Caribbean. Moreover, we outline how large-scale fishery management could explicitly recognize metapopulation structure by considering larval transport dynamics and pelagic larval sanctuaries.
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