Abstract: Understanding current and future patterns of coral larval dispersal and metapopulations connectivity is essential to enable the design of effective marine reserve networks. Adequate levels of connectivity should hasten coral recovery following disturbances. Patterns of coral dispersal and levels of connectivity are not well known, and are likely to change with global warming. We have been using a combination of modelling and empirical data on larval development to estimate existing and future levels of self-recruitment in corals. We found that many corals, even those with an obligate planktonic phase, develop with sufficient rapidity to allow high levels of self-recruitment under realistic scenarios of water retention. Furthermore, as sea temperatures increase, rates of larval development increase and consequently, the number of recruits of local origin will increase. The ultimate effect of increased rates of self-recruitment on population persistence will depend on the spatial scale and frequency of disturbance.
Biography: Joana is a larval biologist. She is particularly interested in studying how larval biology determines dispersal patterns and connectivity in marine invertebrate species. Joana grew up in the beautiful city of Lisbon (Portugal). She completed a BSc. with Honours in Marine Biology in 2003, a post-graduate degree in Statistics Applied to Biology and Health Sciences in 2005, and a Ph.D. in Marine Biology and Aquaculture in 2009, at the University of Lisbon. Before joining the ARC CoE Coral Reef Studies, she was a visitor scholar at Stanford University (USA) and a research fellow at the Centre for Environmental Biology (Portugal). Currently, she is studying how climate change will affect coral larval dispersal and metapopulation connectivity. Joana works closely with Dr. Andrew Baird, Prof. Sean Connolly and Prof. Saki Harii, and conducts her research on the Great Barrier Reef and in Okinawa (Japan).