Transport and recruitment of blue crab larvae: a model with advection and mortality
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The present paper develops a mathematical model for the transport and recruitment of blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) larvae, and applies it to the inner continental shelf of the Middle Atlantic Bight near Delaware Bay, U.S.A. Blue crab larvae develop through seven or eight planktonic zoeal stages to a megalopa stage suitable for recruitment to adult populations of cast coast estuaries. The larvae are concentrated near the surface, and the currents are primarily forced by alongshelf winds and river discharge through major estuaries. Model currents are prescribed based on a realistic synthesis of their observed relationship to wind and river discharge. Besides the resulting advection, particle diffusion and biological mortality are added to determine the fate of larvae released from their parent estuary. Groups of particles were released across the source region of the outflowing buoyancy-driven current in the model estuary mouth. Most larvae were swept alongshelf to the south with the buoyancy-driven coastal current, and thus were lost as recruits to the population of their parent estuary. However, some larvae released close to the seaward edge of the emerging coastal current were able to cross the coastal current front and move seaward into inner shelf water during upwelling-favorable (northward) wind events. Some of these, in turn, were suitably placed near the parent estuary mouth so that they could be advected landward as megalopae into the estuary during a subsequent downwelling-favorable (southward) wind event and thus join the adult population. The model results for megalopae returns were computed from consecutive daily release of 1000 particles, and were compared with 4 years of blue crab megalopa settlement data for Delaware Bay. The model results for 1989 and 1900 matched the observed tiara remarkably well, with both years showing dominance by a single return event of a few days duration. For 1991 and 1002, the observed results showed multiple return events, and the model results did not follow these well.