Population connectivity and the effectiveness of marine protected areas to protect vulnerable, exploited and endemic coral reef fishes at an endemic hotspot

van der Meer, M.H., Berumen, M.L., Hobbs, J.-P.A., and van Herwerden, L. (2015) Population connectivity and the effectiveness of marine protected areas to protect vulnerable, exploited and endemic coral reef fishes at an endemic hotspot. Coral Reefs, 34 (2). pp. 393-402.

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Abstract

Marine protected areas (MPAs) aim to mitigate anthropogenic impacts by conserving biodiversity and preventing overfishing. The effectiveness of MPAs depends on population connectivity patterns between protected and non-protected areas. Remote islands are endemism hotspots for coral reef fishes and provide rare examples of coral reefs with limited fishing pressure. This study explored population genetic connectivity across a network of protected and non-protected areas for the endemic wrasse, Coris bulbifrons, which is listed as "vulnerable" by the IUCN due to its small, decreasing geographic range and declining abundance. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and microsatellite DNA (msatDNA) markers were used to estimate historic and contemporary gene flow to determine the level of population self-replenishment and to measure genetic and genotypic diversity among all four locations in the species range (south-west Pacific Ocean)—Middleton Reef (MR), Elizabeth Reef (ER), Lord Howe Island (LHI) and Norfolk Island (NI). MPAs exist at MR and LHI and are limited or non-existent at ER and NI, respectively. There was no obvious differentiation in mtDNA among locations, however, msatDNA revealed differentiation between the most peripheral (NI) and all remaining locations (MR, ER and LHI). Despite high mtDNA connectivity (M = 259–1,144), msatDNA connectivity was limited (M = 3–9) with high self-replenishment (68–93 %) at all locations. NI is the least connected and heavily reliant on self-replenishment, and the absence of MPAs at NI needs to be rectified to ensure the persistence of endemic species at this location. Other endemic fishes exhibit similar patterns of high self-replenishment across the four locations, indicating that a single spatial management approach consisting of a MPA network protecting part of each location could provide reasonable protection for these species. Thus, the existing network of MPAs at this endemic hotspot appears adequate at some locations, but not at all.

Item ID: 37648
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: endemic hotspot; Lord Howe Island; marine protected areas; management; overfishing
ISSN: 1432-0975
Funders: Lord Howe Island Board, Lord Howe Island Marine Park, Envirofund Australia (Natural Heritage Trust) , Australian Department of the Environment and Water Resources, Capricorn Star
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2015 01:40
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060302 Biogeography and Phylogeography @ 40%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0604 Genetics > 060411 Population, Ecological and Evolutionary Genetics @ 40%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0704 Fisheries Sciences > 070402 Aquatic Ecosystem Studies and Stock Assessment @ 20%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960903 Coastal and Estuarine Water Management @ 10%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960701 Coastal and Marine Management Policy @ 40%
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