Density-dependent spillover from a marine reserve: long-term evidence
Abesamis, Rene A., and Russ, Garry R. (2005) Density-dependent spillover from a marine reserve: long-term evidence. Ecological Applications, 15 (5). pp. 1798-1812.
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Spillover, the net export of adult fish, is one mechanism by which no-take marine reserves may eventually have a positive influence on adjacent fisheries. Although evidence for spillover has increased recently, mechanisms inducing movement of adult fish from reserve to fished areas are poorly understood. While density-dependent export is a reasonable expectation, given that density of fish targeted by fisheries should increase over time inside well-protected no-take reserves, no study to date has demonstrated development of the process. This study provides evidence consistent with density-dependent export of a planktivorous reef fish, Naso vlamingii, from a small no-take reserve (protected for 20 years) at Apo Island, Philippines. Mean density of N. vlamingii increased threefold inside the reserve between 1983 and 2003. Density approached an asymptote inside the reserve after 15–20 years of protection. Modal size in the reserve increased from 35 to 45 cm total length (TL) over 20 years of protection. In addition, both density and modal size increased outside the reserve close to (200–300 m), but not farther from (300–500 m), the reserve boundary over the 20 years of reserve protection. Movement of adult N. vlamingii across the boundaries of the reserve was rare. Aggressive interactions among adult N. vlamingii were significantly higher (by 3.7 times) inside than outside the reserve. This suggests that density-dependent interactions were more intense inside the reserve. When interacting adults differed in size, the larger individual usually chased away the smaller one. Furthermore, the mean size of adult fish captured by experimental fishing decreased from 35-cm TL 50– 100 m outside the boundary, to 32-cm TL 250–300 m outside the boundary. This represents some of the best evidence available for density-dependent home-range relocation of fish from a no-take reserve.