Determination of the fine scale, temporal pattern of larval release by female blue crabs and application of this information to mathematical models of larval dispersal and recruitment
In recent years considerable advances have been made in the mathematical models that simulate larval transport in coastal and estuarine species. One of these models (ECOM3d) coupled to a particle transport model has been used to analyze the dispersal and recruitment of blue crab larvae (Callinectes sapidus) in the Delaware Bay. Larval development in C. sapidus is planktonic and includes seven zoeal stages and a single megalopal stage. Larval dispersal is accomplished by the zoeal stages and occurs in the coastal ocean. Recruitment to juvenile habitat is carried out by the megalopal stage and occurs within the estuary. Thus, successful recruitment requires transport of megalopae from the coastal ocean to the estuary.
The ECOM-3d model is driven by the physical processes of wind, tides, and freshwater outflow. In our application, ECOM-3d has been coupled to a separate particle transport model that treats blue crab larvae as passive particles. Preliminary application of the coupled transport model has resulted in successful reproduction of the occurrence of megalopal settlement events in Delaware Bay. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)