The potential of marginal coastal nursery habitats for the conservation of a culturally important Caribbean marine species

Stieglitz, Thomas C., Dujon, Antoine M., Peel, Joanne, and Amice, Erwan (2020) The potential of marginal coastal nursery habitats for the conservation of a culturally important Caribbean marine species. Diversity and Distributions, 26 (5). pp. 565-574.

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Aim: Identifying the potential of marginal habitats for species conservation is of key importance when their core high-quality habitats are under substantial disturbances and threats. However, there is currently a knowledge gap on how useful marine marginal habitats may be for conserving endangered marine species. Here, we investigate the potential of groundwater-fed coastal areas for the conservation of the queen conch, an economically and culturally important marine gastropod.

Location: The inlet of Xel-Ha, typical of groundwater-fed coastal areas widely distributed along the Yucatan Peninsula coast in Mexico and partially protected by a network of marine protected areas.

Methods: We tracked 66 queen conchs (Lobatus gigas) using acoustic telemetry over a period of 3.5 years. We investigated for ontogenetic niche shift using a network analysis and by modelling their growth.

Results: The queen conchs exhibited the same ontogenetic niche shift required to complete their life cycle in this marginal habitat as they do in offshore core habitats. A total of 33 individuals departed the inlet and migrated from shallow groundwater-affected nursery grounds to deeper marine habitats more suitable for breeding aggregation.

Main conclusions: As the broad-scale movement behaviour of queen conch in this inlet is similar to that observed on the overfished core habitats, our findings suggest that groundwater-fed coastal areas should be included in conservation planning for an effective management of this species within a network of marine protected areas.

Item ID: 62630
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1472-4642
Keywords: connectivity, dispersal, fisheries, marine protected area, movement ecology, sub-optimal habitats
Copyright Information: © 2020 The Authors. Diversity and Distributions Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Funders: Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship, 7th European Community Framework Programme (FP7), European Union FP7 People Program, Europle Mer Consortium, Laboratoire des sciences de l'environnement marin (LEMAR)
Projects and Grants: FP7-PEOPLE-2010-IIF 275681
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2020 07:30
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310301 Behavioural ecology @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 40%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9613 Remnant Vegetation and Protected Conservation Areas > 961303 Protected Conservation Areas in Marine Environments @ 30%
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