TitleLarval Connectivity in an Effective Network of Marine Protected Areas
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsChristie, MR, Tissot, BN, Albins, MA, Beets, JP, Jia, YL, Ortiz, DM, Thompson, SE, Hixon, MA
JournalPlos One
Type of ArticleJournal Article

Acceptance of marine protected areas (MPAs) as fishery and conservation tools has been hampered by lack of direct evidence that MPAs successfully seed unprotected areas with larvae of targeted species. For the first time, we present direct evidence of large-scale population connectivity within an existing and effective network of MPAs. A new parentage analysis identified four parent-offspring pairs from a large, exploited population of the coral-reef fish Zebrasoma flavescens in Hawai'i, revealing larval dispersal distances ranging from 15 to 184 km. In two cases, successful dispersal was from an MPA to unprotected sites. Given high adult abundances, the documentation of any parent-offspring pairs demonstrates that ecologically-relevant larval connectivity between reefs is substantial. All offspring settled at sites to the north of where they were spawned. Satellite altimetry and oceanographic models from relevant time periods indicated a cyclonic eddy that created prevailing northward currents between sites where parents and offspring were found. These findings empirically demonstrate the effectiveness of MPAs as useful conservation and management tools and further highlight the importance of coupling oceanographic, genetic, and ecological data to predict, validate and quantify larval connectivity among marine populations.

URL<Go to ISI>://WOS:000285576900036