MEPS 366:147-158 (2008)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07494

Marine reserves increase the abundance and size of blue cod and rock lobster

Anjali Pande1,8, Alison B. MacDiarmid2, Peter J. Smith3,9, Robert J. Davidson4, Russell G. Cole5, Debbie Freeman6,10, Shane Kelly7, Jonathan P. A. Gardner1,*

1Centre for Marine Environmental and Economic Research, and Island Bay Marine Laboratory, School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington, New Zealand
2National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), PO Box 14-901, Kilbirnie, Wellington, New Zealand
3School of Mathematics and Computer Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington, New Zealand
4Davidson Environmental Ltd, PO Box 958, Nelson, New Zealand
5National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), PO Box 893, Nelson, New Zealand
6Department of Conservation, East Coast/ Hawke’s Bay Conservancy, PO Box 668, Gisborne, New Zealand
7Coastal and Aquatic Systems Ltd, Clevedon, Auckland, New Zealand
8Present address: British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK
9Present address: Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand
10Present address: Leigh Marine Laboratory, University of Auckland, PO Box 349, Warkworth, New Zealand
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Size and abundance data were compiled and collated for blue cod Parapercis colias and rock lobster Jasus edwardsii from New Zealand marine reserve (MR) studies for a meta-analysis to test the null hypotheses that reserve status does not affect the size or abundance of either species. Calculation of meta-analysis effect sizes revealed that significant differences in effect size existed among studies, meaning that the biological response to MR status of both species in terms of their changes in size and/or abundance differed significantly among the MRs. Analysis revealed that blue cod were bigger inside compared with outside MRs in 9 of 10 studies and were more abundant inside MRs in 8 of 11 studies, and that rock lobster were bigger inside the MRs in 12 of 13 studies and more abundant inside the MRs in 11 of 14 studies. These findings indicate that MR protection can result in more and bigger individuals soon after the establishment of the MR (mean of 6.5 yr for blue cod, 8.5 yr for rock lobster) despite small sample sizes of studies (≤10 for blue cod, ≤14 for rock lobster). Focused comparison tests did not reveal any relationship between rock lobster or blue cod size or abundance and either age or area of MRs. Our results demonstrate that no-take MRs are valuable conservation tools for species such as blue cod and rock lobster (and probably also for other exploited species with similar life history characteristics and habitat requirements) and that statistically detectable conservation benefits are apparent after only a few years of protection.


KEY WORDS: Meta-analysis · Focused comparison tests · Marine reserves · Marine conservation · Blue cod · Rock lobster · Mean size and mean abundance · New Zealand


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Cite this article as: Pande A, MacDiarmid AB, Smith PJ, Davidson RJ and others (2008) Marine reserves increase the abundance and size of blue cod and rock lobster. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 366:147-158. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07494

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