Marine reserves: Fish life history and ecological traits matter

  • Title: Marine reserves: Fish life history and ecological traits matter
  • Abstract:

    Marine reserves are assumed to protect a wide range of species from deleterious effects stemming from exploitation. However, some species, due to their ecologicalcharacteristics, may not respond positively to protection. Very little is known about the effects of life history and ecological traits (e.g., mobility, growth, and habitat) on responses of fish species to marine reserves. Using 40 data sets from 12 European marine reserves, we show that there is significant variation in the response of different species of fish to protection and that this heterogeneity can be explained, in part, by differences in their traits. Densities of targeted size classes of commercial species were greater in protected than unprotected areas. This effect of protection increased as the maximum body size of the targeted species increased, and it was greater for species that were not obligate schoolers. However, contrary to previous theoretical findings, even mobile species with wide home ranges benefited from protection: the effect ofprotection was at least as strong for mobile species as it was for sedentary ones. Noncommercial bycatch and unexploited species rarely responded to protection, and when they did (in the case of unexploited bentho-pelagic species), they exhibited the opposite response: their densities were lower inside reserves. The use of marine reserves for marine conservation and fisheries management implies that they should ensure protection for a wide range of species with different life-history and ecological traits. Our results suggest this is not the case, and instead that effects vary with economic value, body size, habitat, depth range, and schooling behavior.

  • Publication Date: Nov. 27, 2014, 5 a.m.
  • Regions: Italy
  • GET-IT User: AMP_Sinis
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  • Edition: Ecological Applications, 20(3), 2010, pp. 830–839  2010 by the Ecological Society of America
  • Language: English
  • Supplemental Information:

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