The scale of larval dispersal of marine organisms is important for the design of networks of marine protected areas. We examined the fate of coral reef fish larvae produced at a small island reserve, using a mass-marking method based on maternal transmission of stable isotopes to offspring. Approximately 60% of settled juveniles were spawned at the island, for species with both short (<2 weeks) and long (>1 month) pelagic larval durations. If natal homing of larvae is a common life-history strategy, the appropriate spatial scales for the management and conservation of coral reefs are likely to be much smaller than previously assumed.
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