Effects of sex change on the implications of marine reserves for fisheries

Chan, Neil C. S., Connolly, Sean R., and Mapstone, Bruce D. (2012) Effects of sex change on the implications of marine reserves for fisheries. Ecological Applications, 22 (3). pp. 778-791.

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Marine reserves have become widely used in biodiversity conservation and are increasingly proposed as fisheries management tools. Previous modeling studies have found that reserves may increase or decrease yields, depending on local environmental conditions and on the specific life-history traits of the fishery species. Sex-changing (female-to-male) fish are targets of some of the most important commercial and recreational fisheries in the world. The potential for disproportionate removal of the larger, older sex of such species requires new theory to facilitate our understanding of how reserves will affect the yields of surrounding fisheries, relative to fishes with separate sexes. We investigated this question by modeling the effects of marine reserves on a non-sex-changing and a sex-changing population. We used demographic parameter estimates for the common coral trout as a baseline, and we conducted extensive sensitivity analyses to determine how sustainable yields of sex-changing species are likely to be affected by reserves across a broad range of life-history parameters. Our findings indicate that fisheries for sex-changing species are unlikely to receive the same yield-enhancing benefit that non-sex-changing fisheries enjoy from marine reserves, and that often reserves tend to reduce sustainable yields for a given overall population size. Specifically, the increased egg production and high fertilization success within reserves is more than offset by the reduced egg production and fertilization success in the fished areas, relative to a system in which fishing mortality is distributed more evenly over the entire system. A key reason for this appears to be that fertilization success is reduced, on average, when males are unevenly distributed among subpopulations, as is the case when reserves are present. These findings suggests that, for sex-changing populations, reserves are more suited to rebuilding overfished populations and sustaining fishery viability, rather than enhancing fishery yields. These results are robust over a range of sex-change regimes, stock-recruitment relationships, adult mortality rates, individual growth strategies, and fertilization-success functions. Our findings highlight the importance of considering the different contributions of males and females to population growth and fishery yields when evaluating the efficacy of marine reserves for enhancement of fished species.

Item ID: 22111
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1051-0761
Keywords: density dependence, fisheries management, Great Barrier Reef, Australia, hermaphrodite, marine reserves, Plectropomus leopardus, protogynous sex change, sustainable fishery yields
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2012 16:10
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060207 Population Ecology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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