Patch structure of benthic resources exploited in Chilean management areas: the shellfish bed concept under a territorial use rights for fishers framework
Abstract:The study of marine benthic resource beds can be undertaken using either an ecological approach, focused on the distribution patterns of the organisms, or a fishery approach, oriented to identify exploitable aggregations of economical interest. These two approaches are rarely brought together in the scientific literature. Herein, we characterized the spatial structuring of benthic resources in Chilean benthic resource management and exploitation areas (BRMEAs), a case of territorial use rights for fishers. We estimated the number, surface area, and mean density of 14 target-species patches found in management areas baseline studies. We attempted to understand the implicit-qualitative criteria used by divers when requesting a new management area. To identify and characterize benthic resource patches, we combined Morisita's aggregation index and maximum likelihood geostatistics. Our results showed an aggregated distribution patterns in almost all of BRMEAs we studied. Patch structure was observed for 10 of the 14 species studied, whose area ranged from 100 m2 to 14,000 m2, while the area of the BRMEAs ranged from 50,000 m2 to around 10,000,000 m2. Species densities inside the patches, on the other hand, showed spatial structuring in only five out of the 36 cases examined. We concluded that BRMEA scales are larger than patches of most benthic resources we studied, and generally include one or more patches of each target species. However, BRMEA scales seem to be smaller that sub-population scales, which suggests that these units might be unsuitable for population management purposes. Aggregated distribution is the most common spatial arrangement of animals and plants in nature. This pattern, also common in exploitable marine species patches and/or aggregations, is related with the empirical concept of beds of benthic resources. This is more evident in benthic populations that are spatially structured as metapopulations, i.e. subpopulations interconnected through larval dispersal.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2010-07-01
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