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Propagule dispersal distance and the size and spacing of marine reserves
Shanks, A.L.; Grantham, B.A.; Carr, M.H. (2003). Propagule dispersal distance and the size and spacing of marine reserves. Ecol. Appl. 13(1, Suppl.): S159-S169
In: Ecological Applications. Ecological Society of America: Tempe, AZ. ISSN 1051-0761, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Dispersion; Introduced species; Larvae; Marine parks; Plankton; Recruitment; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Shanks, A.L.
  • Grantham, B.A.
  • Carr, M.H.

    This study compiled available information on the dispersal distance of thepropagules of benthic marine organisms and used this information in the development ofcriteria for the design of marine reserves. Many benthic marine organisms release propagulesthat spend time in the water column before settlement. During this period, ocean currentstransport or disperse the propagules. When considering the size of a marine reserve andthe spacing between reserves, one must consider the distance which propagules disperse.We could find estimates of dispersal distance for 32 taxa; for 25 of these, we were alsoable to find data on the time the propagules spent dispersing. Dispersal distance rangedfrom meters to thousands of kilometers, and time in the plankton ranged from minutes tomonths. A significant positive correlation was found between the log-transformed durationin the plankton and the log-transformed dispersal distance; the more time propagules spend in the water column the further they tendto be dispersed. The frequency distribution of the log-transformed dispersal distance isbimodal with a gap between 1 and 20 km.Propagules that dispersed ,1 km spent less time in the plankton (,100 h), or if theyremained in the plankton for a longer period, they tended to remain in the waters near thebottom. Propagules that dispersed .20 km spent more than 300 h in the plankton. Thebimodal nature of the distribution suggests that evolutionary constraints may reduce thelikelihood of evolving mid-range dispersal strategies (i.e., dispersal between 1 and 20 km)resulting in two evolutionarily stable dispersal strategies: dispersal ,1 km or .;20 km.We suggest that reserves be designed large enough to contain the short-distance dispersingpropagules and be spaced far enough apart that long-distance dispersing propagules releasedfrom one reserve can settle in adjacent reserves. A reserve 4-6 km in diameter should belarge enough to contain the larvae of short-distance dispersers, and reserves spaced 10-20 km apart should be close enough to capture propagules released from adjacent reserves.

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