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Title

MPA network design based on graph theory and emergent properties of larval dispersal

AuthorsOspina-Álvarez, Andrés ; de Juan, Silvia ; Alós, Josep ; Basterretxea, Gotzon ; Alonso-Fernández, Alexandre ; Follana-Berná, Guillermo; Palmer, Miquel ; Catalán, Ignacio Alberto
KeywordsLarval connectivity
MPA network
Larval dispersal
Larval transport
Management
Issue DateSep-2020
PublisherInter Research
CitationMarine Ecology Progress Serie 650: 309-326 (2020)
AbstractDespite the recognised effectiveness of networks of marine protected areas (MPAs) as a biodiversity conservation instrument, MPA network design frequently disregards the importance of connectivity patterns. In the case of sedentary marine populations, connectivity stems not only from the stochastic nature of the physical environment that affects dispersal of early life stages, but also from the spawning stock attributes that affect reproductive output (e.g. passive eggs and larvae) and survivorship. Early life stages are virtually impossible to track in the ocean. Therefore, numerical ocean current simulations coupled with egg and larval Lagrangian transport models remain the most common approach for the assessment of marine larval connectivity. Inferred larval connectivity may differ depending on the type of connectivity considered; consequently, the prioritisation of sites for the conservation of marine populations might also differ. Here, we introduce a framework for evaluating and designing MPA networks based on the identification of connectivity hotspots using graph theoretic analysis. As a case study, we used a network of open-access areas and MPAs off Mallorca Island (Spain), and tested its effectiveness for the protection of the painted comber Serranus scriba. Outputs from network analysis were used to (1) identify critical areas for improving overall larval connectivity, (2) assess the impact of species’ biological parameters in network connectivity and (3) explore alternative MPA configurations to improve average network connectivity. Results demonstrate the potential of graph theory to identify non-trivial egg/larval dispersal patterns and emerging collective properties of the MPA network, which are relevant for increasing protection efficiency
DescriptionContribution to the Theme Section Latest advances in research on fish early life stages.-- 18 pages, 8 figures, 3 tables, supplementary material https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13399
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13399
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/221880
DOI10.3354/meps13399
ISSN0171-8630
E-ISSN1616-1599
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