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Free Content Source-sink population dynamics and the problem of siting marine reserves

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Marine protected areas (MPAs) have been proposed as one way to reduce the problems of overfishing and to respond to uncertainty in fisheries management. Many fisheries, including tropical and temperate reef fisheries, are inherently multispecies, multigear fisheries and are difficult to manage by traditional methods. Clearly, these fisheries should benefit from the establishment of no-take marine reserves, but the track record to date for fisheries benefits of MPAs is mixed or poorly documented. Because siting of reserves depends upon both scientific and sociological input, the lack of critical scientific information on source-sink population structure of reef fishes can potentially lead to MPA placement that can damage rather than enhance fisheries. In this paper, we develop a simple, spatially explicit model to address a series of hypotheses regarding MPA effects on fisheries. Our hypotheses include: (1) a system in which reserves are placed in source habitats is superior to one in which they are placed at random or in sink habitats; (2) the importance of source-sink population structure is increased if fishing effort is displaced rather than reduced; (3) as the proportion of the environment consisting of poor-quality (sink) habitat increases, proper siting of MPAs becomes increasingly important; and (4) if the environment contains directional currents, the spatial location of reserves will be critical to population enhancement. Our results suggest that, if reef fishes have source-sink population dynamics, siting reserves on the basis of sociological criteria alone may be risky. We need to understand source-sink population dynamics to site MPAs properly.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 May 2000

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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