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Trade-Offs between Species Conservation and the Size of Marine Protected Areas

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Moving from single-species- to ecosystem-based management requires an understanding of how community-level attributes such as diversity change with area. We used survey data from bottom trawls to examine spatial patterns of species richness in U.S. Pacific coastal fishes. Specifically, we generated and compared species–area relationships (SARs) for species classified into several groups on the basis of maximum body size, trophic level, diet, maximum depth, geographic affinity, and taxonomic order. Because SARs among groups were not parallel and z values varied significantly for several groups, groups of species were under- or overrepresented (depending on the size of the area) relative to their proportions in the entire community (i.e., entire U.S. Pacific coast). In this way, differences in SARs help demonstrate trade-offs between species representation and coastal area and suggest strategies (such as targeting the protection of habitats and locations where a particular species or groups of species are maximized) that may minimize the size of marine protected areas (MPAs) but protect diversity at the level of the community and functional group.
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Keywords: biodiversity conservation; conservación de la biodiversidad; marine protected areas; relaciones especies–área; species–area relationships; áreas marinas protegidas

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service Center, 2725 Montlake Boulevard East, Seattle, WA 98112-2097, U.S.A.

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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