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Nat Commun. 2016 Jun 29;7:12000. doi: 10.1038/ncomms12000.

Marine reserves lag behind wilderness in the conservation of key functional roles.

Author information

1
MARBEC, UMR IRD-CNRS-UM-IFREMER 9190, Université Montpellier, Languedoc-Roussillon, 34095 Montpellier Cedex, France.
2
ENTROPIE, UMR IRD-UR-CNRS 9220, Laboratoire d'Excellence LABEX CORAIL, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, BP A5, 98848 Nouméa Cedex, New Caledonia.
3
Wildlife Conservation Society, Global Marine Program, Bronx, New York 10460 USA.
4
Université de Nouvelle Calédonie-EA4243 Laboratoire « LIVE » - BP R4, 98851 Nouméa-Nouvelle Calédonie.
5
Fisheries Ecology Research Lab, University of Hawaii, 2538 McCarthy Mall, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA.
6
Pristine Seas-National Geographic Society, Washington, DC 20036, USA.
7
ENTROPIE, UMR IRD-UR-CNRS 9220, Laboratoire d'Excellence LABEX CORAIL, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Université de Perpignan, 66860 Perpignan Cedex 9, France.

Abstract

Although marine reserves represent one of the most effective management responses to human impacts, their capacity to sustain the same diversity of species, functional roles and biomass of reef fishes as wilderness areas remains questionable, in particular in regions with deep and long-lasting human footprints. Here we show that fish functional diversity and biomass of top predators are significantly higher on coral reefs located at more than 20 h travel time from the main market compared with even the oldest (38 years old), largest (17,500 ha) and most restrictive (no entry) marine reserve in New Caledonia (South-Western Pacific). We further demonstrate that wilderness areas support unique ecological values with no equivalency as one gets closer to humans, even in large and well-managed marine reserves. Wilderness areas may therefore serve as benchmarks for management effectiveness and act as the last refuges for the most vulnerable functional roles.

PMID:
27354026
PMCID:
PMC4931279
DOI:
10.1038/ncomms12000
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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