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Potential of marine reserves to cause community-wide changes beyond their boundaries
Guidetti, P. (2007). Potential of marine reserves to cause community-wide changes beyond their boundaries. Conserv. Biol. 21(2): 540-545
In: Conservation Biology. Wiley: Boston, Mass.. ISSN 0888-8892, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Community composition; Marine parks; Overfishing; Phase changes; Reefs; Temperate zones; Trophic levels; Marine

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  • Guidetti, P., more

    Fishing and other human activities can alter the abundances, size structure, and behavior of species playing key roles in shaping marine communities (e.g., keystone predators), which may in turn cause ecosystem shifts. Despite extensive evidence that cascading trophic interactions can underlie community-wide recovery inside no-take marine reserves by protecting high-level predators, the spatial extent of these effects into adjacent fished areas is unknown. I examined the potential for community-wide changes (i.e., the transition from overgrazed coralline barrens to macroalgal beds) in temperate rocky reefs within and around a no-take marine reserve. For this purpose I assessed distribution patterns of predatory fishes, sea urchins, and barrens across the reserve boundaries. Predatory fishes were significantly more abundant within the reserve than in adjacent locations, with moderate spillover across the reserve edges. In contrast, community-wide changes of benthic assemblages were apparent well beyond the reserve boundaries, which is consistent with temporary movements of predatory fishes (e.g., foraging migration) from the reserve to surrounding areas. My results suggest that no-take marine reserves can promote community-wide changes beyond their boundaries.

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