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. 2015 Sep 16;5:14102.
doi: 10.1038/srep14102.

Recovery Trajectories of Kelp Forest Animals Are Rapid Yet Spatially Variable Across a Network of Temperate Marine Protected Areas

Free PMC article

Recovery Trajectories of Kelp Forest Animals Are Rapid Yet Spatially Variable Across a Network of Temperate Marine Protected Areas

Jennifer E Caselle et al. Sci Rep. .
Free PMC article


Oceans currently face a variety of threats, requiring ecosystem-based approaches to management such as networks of marine protected areas (MPAs). We evaluated changes in fish biomass on temperate rocky reefs over the decade following implementation of a network of MPAs in the northern Channel Islands, California. We found that the biomass of targeted (i.e. fished) species has increased consistently inside all MPAs in the network, with an effect of geography on the strength of the response. More interesting, biomass of targeted fish species also increased outside MPAs, although only 27% as rapidly as in the protected areas, indicating that redistribution of fishing effort has not severely affected unprotected populations. Whether the increase outside of MPAs is due to changes in fishing pressure, fisheries management actions, adult spillover, favorable environmental conditions, or a combination of all four remains unknown. We evaluated methods of controlling for biogeographic or environmental variation across networks of protected areas and found similar performance of models incorporating empirical sea surface temperature versus a simple geographic blocking term based on assemblage structure. The patterns observed are promising indicators of the success of this network, but more work is needed to understand how ecological and physical contexts affect MPA performance.


Figure 1
Figure 1. Map of the northern Channel Islands showing Marine Protected Area boundaries and average of sea surface temperature (SST) calculated from 15-day means over the period 2000-2012.
SST data were MODIST (2000-present) and MODISA (2002-present) with 1km resolution (see methods). Map was created by the authors using ArcGIS 10.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Spatial variation in total fish biomass (metric tons per hectare) inside (black) and outside (grey) MPAs across the network presented by island.
(A) Average total biomass of all fish species targeted by fishing. (B) Average total biomass of all fish species not targeted by fishing. Means for years 2005–2012 +/− 1 SE
Figure 3
Figure 3. Trajectories of change in biomass (metric tons per hectare) inside (red) and outside (blue) MPAs across the islands in the Northern Channel Islands for targeted (left panels) and non-targeted (right panels) fish species.
Panels A and F show mean total biomass across all regions since MPA establishment in 2003. Panels B-E and G-J present biomass trends for each island across the network from East (Anacapa) to West (San Miguel).
Figure 4
Figure 4. Frequency histograms of the rate of change in fish at individual sites in the Channel Islands.
Values are estimates of the annual change in biomass (t ha−1) calculated as the slope of the relationship between biomass and time since MPA establishment. Shown are histograms for sites inside (A,C) and outside (B,D) MPAs for targeted (A,B) and non-targeted (C,D) fish species. Positive slopes represent increasing biomass and negative slopes indicate decreasing biomass over time. Vertical dashed line at zero represents no change in biomass.
Figure 5
Figure 5. Conceptual model of effects of various biotic, abiotic and anthropogenic parameters on patterns of MPA responses across space and through time.

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