Consequences of alternative dispersal strategies in a putatively amphidromous fish

J. Derek Hogan, Michael J. Blum, James F. Gilliam, Nate Bickford, Peter B. McIntyre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Successful dispersal can enhance both individual fitness and population persistence, but the process of dispersal is often inherently risky. The interplay between the costs and benefits of dispersal are poorly documented for species with complex life histories due to the difficulty of tracking dispersing individuals. Here we investigate variability in dispersal histories of a freshwater fish, Awaous stamineus, across the species' entire geographic range in the Hawaiian archipelago. Like many animals endemic to tropical island streams, these gobies have an amphidromous life cycle in which a brief marine larval phase enables dispersal among isolated freshwater habitats. Using otolith microchemistry, we document three distinct marine dispersal pathways, all of which are observed on every island. Surprisingly, we also find that 62% of individuals complete their life cycle entirely within freshwater, in contrast to the assumption that amphidromy is obligate in Hawaiian stream gobies. Comparing early life history outcomes based on daily otolith growth rings, we find that individuals with marine dispersal have shorter larval durations and faster larval growth, and their growth advantage over purely freshwater counterparts continues to some degree into adult life. These individual benefits of maintaining a marine dispersal phase presumably balance against the challenge of finding and reentering an island stream from the ocean. The facultative nature of amphidromy in this species highlights the selective balance between costs and benefits of dispersal in life history evolution. Accounting for alternative dispersal strategies will be essential for conservation of the amphidromous species that often dominate tropical island streams, many of which are at risk of extinction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2397-2408
Number of pages12
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Amphidromy
  • Awaous stamineus
  • Complex life cycle
  • Connectivity
  • Cost-benefit
  • Dispersal strategy
  • Fitness
  • Growth
  • Hawaii
  • Larvae
  • Metapopulation
  • Stream fish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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