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Ecological criteria for evaluating candidate sites for marine reserves
Roberts, C.M.; Andelman, S.; Branch, G.; Bustamante, R.H.; Castilla, J.C.; Dugan, J.; Halpern, B.S.; Lafferty, K.D.; Leslie, H.M.; Lubchenco, J.; McArdle, D.; Possingham, H.P.; Ruckelshaus, M.; Warner, R.R. (2003). Ecological criteria for evaluating candidate sites for marine reserves. Ecol. Appl. 13(1, Suppl.): S199-S214
In: Ecological Applications. Ecological Society of America: Tempe, AZ. ISSN 1051-0761, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Keywords
    Biodiversity; Conservation; Ecological balance; Fishery management; Marine parks; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Roberts, C.M.
  • Andelman, S.
  • Branch, G.
  • Bustamante, R.H.
  • Castilla, J.C.
  • Dugan, J.
  • Halpern, B.S.
  • Lafferty, K.D.
  • Leslie, H.M.
  • Lubchenco, J.
  • McArdle, D.
  • Possingham, H.P.
  • Ruckelshaus, M.
  • Warner, R.R.

Abstract
    Several schemes have been developed to help select the locations of marinereserves. All of them combine social, economic, and biological criteria, and few offer anyguidance as to how to prioritize among the criteria identified. This can imply that therelative weights given to different criteria are unimportant. Where two sites are of equalvalue ecologically, then socioeconomic criteria should dominate the choice of which shouldbe protected. However, in many cases, socioeconomic criteria are given equal or greaterweight than ecological considerations in the choice of sites. This can lead to selection ofreserves with little biological value that fail to meet many of the desired objectives. Toavoid such a possibility, we develop a series of criteria that allow preliminary evaluationof candidate sites according to their relative biological values in advance of the applicationof socioeconomic criteria. We include criteria that, while not strictly biological, have astrong influence on the species present or ecological processes. Our scheme enables sitesto be assessed according to their biodiversity, the processes which underpin that diversity,and the processes that support fisheries and provide a spectrum of other services importantto people. Criteria that capture biodiversity values include biogeographic representation,habitat representation and heterogeneity, and presence of species or populations of specialinterest (e.g., threatened species). Criteria that capture sustainability of biodiversity andfishery values include the size of reserves necessary to protect viable habitats, presence ofexploitable species, vulnerable life stages, connectivity among reserves, links among ecosystems,and provision of ecosystem services to people. Criteria measuring human andnatural threats enable candidate sites to be eliminated from consideration if risks are toogreat, but also help prioritize among sites where threats can be mitigated by protection.While our criteria can be applied to the design of reserve networks, they also enable choiceof single reserves to be made in the context of the attributes of existing protected areas.The overall goal of our scheme is to promote the development of reserve networks thatwill maintain biodiversity and ecosystem functioning at large scales. The values of ecosystemgoods and services for people ultimately depend on meeting this objective.

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