Multi-scale distribution and dynamics of bivalve larvae in a deep atoll lagoon (Ahe, French Polynesia)
Bivalve larvae and hydrographic parameters were sampled over a range of spatio-temporal scales in a deep atoll lagoon. Bivalve larvae abundances were very high throughout the year: 18,550 m−3 in average. Larvae were (i) concentrated at mid-depth with nocturnal ascent and diurnal descent, (ii) heterogeneously dispersed at the lagoon scale, (iii) subject to day-to-day variation in abundance and (iv) transferred between different parts of the lagoon providing evidence of intra-lagoonal connectivity. The primacy of physical factors was seen on large spatial scale with the diluting effect of water renewal and transfers by hydrodynamics. On smaller spatial scale, the primacy of biological processes was recognised, with larval swimming activity leading to dial vertical migration correlated with food concentration. Variations in larval abundance were driven by bivalve reproductive activity correlated with meteorological conditions (i.e. windy periods). Finally, relationship between bivalve larvae patterns and pearl oyster (Pinctada margaritifera) settlement structuring is discussed. âº Bivalve larvae distribution patterns were studied in a deep atoll lagoon. âº Bivalve larvae abundances were very high throughout the year. âº The primacy of physical factors was seen on large spatial scale. âº Biological processes (swimming, spawning) were recognised to drive small-scale patterns. âº We demonstrated the relationship between larvae abundance and Pinctada margaritifera settlement.