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Estimating time-dependent connectivity in marine systems

February 4, 2016

Hydrodynamic connectivity describes the sources and destinations of water parcels within a domain over a given time. When combined with biological models, it can be a powerful concept to explain the patterns of constituent dispersal within marine ecosystems. However, providing connectivity metrics for a given domain is a three-dimensional problem: two dimensions in space to define the sources and destinations and a time dimension to evaluate connectivity at varying temporal scales. If the time scale of interest is not predefined, then a general approach is required to describe connectivity over different time scales. For this purpose, we have introduced the concept of a “retention clock” that highlights the change in connectivity through time. Using the example of connectivity between protected areas within Barnegat Bay, New Jersey, we show that a retention clock matrix is an informative tool for multitemporal analysis of connectivity.