We study the dispersal of larvae of benthic invertebrates through the ocean and their recruitment back to the seafloor. These processes connect communities in geographically separated habitats (metacommunity), and influence their resilience to natural and human disturbance. Larval dispersal pathways and eventual settlement sites are controlled largely by ocean currents and turbulence. We use field observations, laboratory experiments, and mathematical models to understand these interactions between larvae and their hydrodynamic environment. Our field sites range from coastal bays in New England to deep-sea hydrothermal vents in the eastern and western Pacific.