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Application of ecological criteria in selecting marine reserves and developing reserve networks
Roberts, C.M.; Branch, G.; Bustamante, R.H.; Castilla, J.C.; Dugan, J.; Halpern, B.S.; Lafferty, K.D.; Leslie, H.M.; Lubchenco, J.; McArdle, D.; Ruckelshaus, M.; Warner, R.R. (2003). Application of ecological criteria in selecting marine reserves and developing reserve networks. Ecol. Appl. 13(1, Suppl.): S215-S228
In: Ecological Applications. Ecological Society of America: Tempe, AZ. ISSN 1051-0761, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

    Biodiversity; Conservation; Ecosystems; Fishery management; Marine

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

    Marine reserves are being established worldwide in response to a growingrecognition of the conservation crisis that is building in the oceans. However, designationof reserves has been largely opportunistic, or protective measures have been implemented(often overlapping and sometimes in conflict) by different entities seeking to achieve differentends. This has created confusion among both users and enforcers, and the proliferationof different measures provides a false sense of protection where little is offered. This papersets out a procedure grounded in current understanding of ecological processes, that allowsthe evaluation and selection of reserve sites in order to develop functional, interconnectednetworks of fully protected reserves that will fulfill multiple objectives. By fully protectedwe mean permanently closed to fishing and other resource extraction. We provide a frameworkthat unifies the central aims of conservation and fishery management, while alsomeeting other human needs such as the provision of ecosystem services (e.g., maintenanceof coastal water quality, shoreline protection, and recreational opportunities). In our scheme,candidate sites for reserves are evaluated against 12 criteria focused toward sustaining thebiological integrity and productivity of marine systems at both local and regional scales.While a limited number of sites will be indispensable in a network, many will be of similarvalue as reserves, allowing the design of numerous alternative, biologically adequate networks.Devising multiple network designs will help ensure that ecological functionality ispreserved throughout the socioeconomic evaluation process. Too often, socioeconomic criteriahave dominated the process of reserve selection, potentially undermining their efficacy.We argue that application of biological criteria must precede and inform socioeconomicevaluation, since maintenance of ecosystem functioning is essential for meeting all of thegoals for reserves. It is critical that stakeholders are fully involved throughout this process.Application of the proposed criteria will lead to networks whose multifunctionality willhelp unite the objectives of different management entities, so accelerating progress towardimproved stewardship of the oceans.

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