Physical connectivity simulations reveal dynamic linkages between coral reefs in the southern Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.
byY. Wang, D. E. Raitsos, G. Krokos, J. A. Gittings, P. Zhan, I. Hoteit
The southern Red Sea is genetically distinct from the rest of the basin; yet the reasons responsible for this genetic separation remain unclear. Connectivity is a vital process for the exchange of individuals and genes among geographically separated populations, and is necessary for maintaining biodiversity and resilience in coral reef ecosystems. Here, using long-term, high-resolution, 3-D backward particle tracking simulations, we investigate the physical connectivity of coral reefs in the southern Red Sea with neighbouring regions. Overall, the simulation results reveal that the southern Red Sea coral reefs are more physically connected with regions in the Indian Ocean (e.g., the Gulf of Aden) than with the northern part of the basin. The identified connectivity exhibits a distinct monsoon-related seasonality. Though beyond the country boundaries, relatively remote regions of the Indian Ocean may have a substantial impact on the southern Red Sea coral reef regions, and this should be taken into consideration when establishing conservation strategies for these vulnerable biodiversity hot-spots.