A diagram showing connectivity within a marine ecosystem.

Currents connect one part of the ocean with another and provide hydrodynamic transport pathways of waterborne material. AIMS oceanographers are investigating these pathways using satellite tracked drifting buoys, in-situ observations of ocean currents and computer simulations of hydrodynamic circulation.

Organisms that lack much ability to move independently, such as coral larvae and jellyfish, rely on ocean currents for dispersal. AIMS researchers are applying population genetic approaches to assess movement of these animals.

Larval-exporting or source reefs with diverse populations of healthy adult corals are essential for maintaining the genetic diversity and resilience of larval-importing or sink reefs. Successful migrants leave a genetic signature of their movements and allow inference of connectivity using population-genetic methods. Genetic methods help identify potential migrants that have settled on a reef over the past few generations.

AIMS scientists are also using population genetic approaches to assess the movement of the Irukandji jellyfish Carukia barnesi and box jellyfish Chironex fleckeri . These data will be combined with statocyst elemental chemistry and jellyfish abundance data obtained by collaborators at JCU to minimise stinging risk to swimmers through knowledge of the sources of jellyfishes and changes in their abundance.