Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2011

Seasonality in fish larval assemblage structure within marine reef National Parks in coastal Kenya

Mwaluma, James Mwandawiro; Kaunda-Arara, Boaz; Rasowo, Joseph; Osore, Melckzedeck Knight; Oresland, Vidar


Variability of larval assemblages within marine habitats has an effect on population structure of adults, and on patchiness of populations in space and time. However, despite this effect, few studies have examined this variability in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) especially in relation to marine park boundaries. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that seasonality and biophysical variables influence fish larval assemblage structure within two of the oldest marine parks in Kenya of differing reef structure. Monthly samples were obtained from the parks using oblique plankton tows for 14-24 months. A total of 38 families and 52 genera of fish larvae were obtained from Malindi Marine Park, while 20 genera in 20 families were sampled from the more enclosed Watamu Marine Park but with a connection to an estuarine system. The preflexion larvae comprised over 80% of the total larvae in the parks with the dominant groups being; Gobiidae, Blenniidae, Engraulidae and Apogonidae. The availability of a wide size range of larvae for some groups like Blenniidae, Gobiidae, Engraulidae, Labridae and Scaridae indicated the possibility of some larvae completing their pelagic phase within the parks. Larval densities differed significantly between seasons and stations in both parks, with higher densities ranging between 95-311 larvae/100 m(3) during the calm northeast monsoon (NEM) season, compared to 5-58 larvae/100 m(3) during the stormy southeast monsoon (SEM) season. Stepwise multiple regression analysis indicated a significant positive influence of zooplankton density on fish larval abundance in Malindi Park, while a positive and significant influence of temperature was found in Watamu Park. Distinct assemblages of larvae occurred within the parks indicating within park patchiness in larval distribution and, perhaps existence of retention features. These results provide useful baseline data on larval distribution in the WIO, and will be useful in understanding population dynamics of adult populations when complimented with additional oceanographic data


Fish larvae; Seasonality; Developmental stages; Marine parks; Kenya

Published in

Environmental Biology of Fishes
2011, Volume: 90, number: 4, pages: 393-404

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Fish and Aquacultural Science

    Publication Identifiers


    Permanent link to this page (URI)