Incorporating ontogenetic dispersal, ecological processes and conservation zoning into reserve design

Edwards, Helen J., Elliott, Ian A., Pressey, Robert L., and Mumby, Peter J. (2010) Incorporating ontogenetic dispersal, ecological processes and conservation zoning into reserve design. Biological Conservation, 143 (2). pp. 457-470.

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Computational methods for marine reserve design are frequently used as decision-support tools for the identification of conservation areas. Most reserve-selection algorithms minimise the cost of the reserve system whilst aiming to meet specified biodiversity objectives. Here, we extend a widely-used selection algorithm, Marxan, to incorporate several important considerations related to biodiversity processes and management. First we relax the scorched earth assumption to allow conservation features in non-reserve zones to contribute explicitly to conservation objectives. To achieve this, we generate conservation targets at landscape scales rather than focusing purely on the representation of features within reserves. Second, we develop the notion of spatial dependencies further to incorporate spatial heterogeneity in the value of individual conservation features such as habitat types. We use the example of ontogenetic migrations of fish from mangroves to coral reefs because it nicely demonstrates how spatial ecological processes generate predictable heterogeneity in habitat value that should be considered in the reserve design process. Lastly, we show how habitat value can be disaggregated into ecosystem processes and services. Using a case study for the Belize Barrier Reef we compare reserve networks generated using our new approach with the results of traditional analyses. Consideration of the contribution of different protection zones, connectivity among habitats and more complex management goals resulted in up to a 52% increase in the mean biomass of commercially and ecologically-important fish species represented in the landscape. Our approach strengthens the ecological basis of reserve-design algorithms and might facilitate the uptake of ecosystem-based management into reserve design.

Item ID: 16305
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-2917
Keywords: reserve selection, connectivity, conservation planning, coral reef, ecosystem services
Date Deposited: 03 May 2011 06:53
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960599 Ecosystem Assessment and Management not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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