TitleEcological effects of marine reserves in Latin America and the Caribbean
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsGuarderas, AP, Hacker, SD, Lubchenco, J
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Type of ArticleJournal Article

In this study we evaluated the performance of marine reserves in Latin America and the Caribbean by examining the results of previously published studies. On average, the total biomass, density and body size of species increased inside marine reserves but species richness did not. The magnitude and direction of the responses in particular reserves varied depending on the species and trophic group considered, suggesting that indirect effects and trophic cascades might be important processes in the community-wide response to protection. Our analysis at the species level showed that most species increased in density inside reserves and that the fish response was greater than that of the invertebrate response, which was more variable. We also found a positive relationship between recovery of particular species and their individual level of exploitation intensity outside the reserve but found no such relationship with species body size, mobility, trophic level or resilience (population doubling time). Moreover, our analysis revealed that the response to protection was unaffected by the size, years of protection or area surveyed of the reserve, but there was a negative relationship with the number of species sampled in the studies. Our results also showed that the number of publications on marine reserve performance in Latin America and the Caribbean is still limited and the distribution is geographically uneven. We suggest that a stronger focus on both target species and the suite of other interacting species will allow better estimates of the community-wide effects of protection.

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