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Ensuring persistence of marine reserves: catastrophes require adopting an insurance factor
Allison, G.W.; Gaines, S.D.; Lubchenco, J.; Possingham, H.P. (2003). Ensuring persistence of marine reserves: catastrophes require adopting an insurance factor. Ecol. Appl. 13(1, Suppl.): S8-S24
In: Ecological Applications. Ecological Society of America: Tempe, AZ. ISSN 1051-0761, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Allison, G.W.
  • Gaines, S.D.
  • Lubchenco, J.
  • Possingham, H.P.

    When viewed across long temporal and large spatial scales, severe disturbancesin marine ecosystems are not uncommon. Events such as hurricanes, oil spills,disease outbreaks, hypoxic events, harmful algal blooms, and coral bleaching can causemassive mortality and dramatic habitat effects on local or even regional scales. Althoughdesigners of marine reserves might assume low risk from such events over the short term,catastrophes are quite probable over the long term and must be considered for successfulimplementation of reserves. A simple way to increase performance of a reserve networkis to incorporate into the reserve design a mechanism for calculating how much additionalarea would be required to buffer the reserve against effects of catastrophes. In this paper,we develop a method to determine this ‘‘insurance factor’’: a multiplier to calculate theadditional reserve area necessary to ensure that functional goals of reserves will be metwithin a given ‘‘catastrophe regime.’’ We document and analyze the characteristics of tworelatively well-studied types of disturbances: oil spills and hurricanes.We examine historicaldata to characterize catastrophe regimes within which reserves must function and use theseregimes to illustrate the application of the insurance factor. This tool can be applied to anyreserve design for which goals are defined by a quantifiable measure, such as a fraction ofshoreline, that is necessary to accomplish a particular function. In the absence of suchquantitative measures, the concept of additional area as insurance against catastrophes maystill be useful.

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