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Title: Modeling Blue Crab ( Callinectes sapidus ) Larval Transport and Recruitment Dynamics in a Shallow Lagoon‐Inlet‐Coastal Ocean System

Blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) supports lucrative Mid‐Atlantic crustacean fisheries and plays an important role in estuarine ecology, so their larval transport and recruitment dynamics in the Maryland Coastal Bays system were investigated using simulated and observed surface drifters. Relative contributions of winds, tides, density gradients, and waves to larval recruitment success were identified during the spawning season, particularly under hurricane conditions in 2014. Based on temperature (e.g., 19–29°C) and salinity conditions (e.g., 23–33 PSU), particles representing virtual blue crab larvae were released into the model domain from early June to late October 2014. During the spawning season, variations in the larval recruitment success caused by wind speed and direction, tides (e.g., affecting through inlets), density gradients (e.g., salinity variations), and surface gravity waves were 17%, 4%, −9%, and 17%, respectively. During Hurricane Arthur (2014), variability of self‐recruitment success caused by density gradients are negligible while by other three factors are comparable at 3%–4%. Surface drifter experiments support the modeling results that larval recruitment success is strongly associated with the coastal circulation. The high (low) self‐recruitment success in the Assawoman and Chincoteague Bays (Sinepuxent Bay) is related to the locally weak (strong) circulation; released larvae escape from inlets are likely recruited to southern Fenwick and northern Assateague Islands, and the coastal regions outside the Chincoteague Inlet. Understanding physical factors influencing larval recruitment success helps resource managers make informed decisions about habitat restoration and harvest regulations, in addition to seafood‐related food security.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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