Marine Reserves Exploit Population Structure and Life History in Potentially Improving Fisheries Yields


Gaylord, Brian; Gaines, Steven; Siegel, David; Carr, Mark H.

Journal or Book Title: Ecological Applications

Keywords: fishery yield; harvesting; marine protected areas; spatially explicit; stage structure

Volume/Issue: 15/6

Page Number(s): 2180-2191

Year Published: 2005


The collapse of many of the world's fisheries has induced a reevaluation of existing fisheries management strategies. This has fueled interest in the establishment of networks of no-take marine reserves as an additional form of protection. Proponents of marine reserves have suggested that reserves can provide a number of advantages over other, more traditional, methods. However, concerns have also persisted that marine reserves will reduce overall catch. In a theoretical context, this concern has been only partially addressed by previous work suggesting that reserves can produce equivalent yields to those from traditional management, since this possibility is widely interpreted as a limiting case. However, an “equivalence-at-best” scenario is based on a highly simplified model construct that ignores all spatial pattern and size structure characterizing real populations. By contrast, when coupled effects of (1) spatial pattern in adult densities and larval dispersal, (2) population size structure, and (3) aspects of life history are considered in their most basic forms, model results suggest that reserve networks may have the potential to enhance fishery yields under a surprisingly large number of circumstances. Such enhancement is predicted to be greatest, and at times substantial, in species exhibiting postdispersal density dependence and that have relatively long-lived and sedentary adults, life history traits common to many harvested fishes and invertebrates. A goal of this study is to spark further theoretical attention and experimental testing on this unanticipated front.

DOI: 10.1890/04-1810

Type of Publication: Journal Article