Abstract: I will present a personal view on where we have come from with respect to the connectivity of reef fish populations. Relatively recently presettlement reef fish were poorly known and were considered to be passive particles. Within two decades we now understand that they have strong swimming abilities, sophisticated sensory systems and many have an uncanny ability to return to their natal reef. Batch tagging of eggs has revolutionised our understanding of the percentage of larvae that return to their natal reef. However, our understanding of the life of fish larvae between hatching and settlement on the reefs is rudimentary. I will present data on how the ‘fog’ is lifting on the proverbial ‘black box’ through information on larval distributions, otolith microstructure and elemental chemistry and well as larval behaviour. Despite strong currents and oceanographic mixing in some reef mosaics, high resolution microsatellite techniques are indicating strong genetic separation of fish populations among reefs separated by small spatial scales. Further, for short lived fishes, population genetics can vary among vary among years. New approaches to an old question are allowing us to provide relevant information for a diversity of management options.
Biography: Michael is the Head of the School of Marine and Tropical Biology at James Cook University. The School is a recognized world leader in tropical marine science, aquaculture, zoology, ecology and plant sciences. He has been President of the Australian Coral Reef Society, Director of One Tree Island Research Station, member of the Great Barrier Reef Research Foundation and the Museum of Tropical Queensland advisory committees. He has published extensively on the ecology of reef fishes, jellyfishes, biological oceanography and climate change. His projects have encompassed a range of latitudes and he has edited two books on tropical and temperate ecology. A major focus of his research has been on connectivity of reef fish populations, environmental records in corals and fishes and deadly irukandji jellyfishes. In addition to research and leadership, he teaches undergraduate students and supervises many postgraduate students.