MEPS 394:65-78 (2009)  -  doi:10.3354/meps08326

Quantifying larval export from South African marine reserves

Robin A. Pelc1,6,*, Marissa L. Baskett2, Tembaletu Tanci3, Steven D. Gaines1,4, Robert R. Warner1,5

1Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA
2Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616, USA
3Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, 8012 Cape Town, South Africa
4Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93136, USA
5Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA
6Present address: Monterey Bay Aquarium, 886 Cannery Row, Monterey, California 93940, USA

ABSTRACT: Marine reserves may not only protect populations within their borders but also subsidize harvested populations outside through the spillover of either adults or planktonic larvae. The conservation benefits of marine reserves are well documented, and a growing body of evidence suggests that the spillover of large adults from reserves can enhance fisheries for highly mobile species. However, the proposed benefit to fisheries through larval export, a crucial benefit for the many marine species without highly mobile adults, remains controversial. We tested for larval export by estimating larval production and recruitment patterns of a harvested intertidal mussel, Perna perna, inside—and a range of distances outside—3 marine reserves in South Africa. Within the borders of 2 reserves, mussels were more abundant and larger than outside the reserves, with significantly higher expected production. Recruitment was highest inside these reserves and declined exponentially with distance. In the third region, where harvest outside reserve boundaries is carefully managed by community members, no differences in production or recruitment inside versus outside the reserve were found. Where production and recruitment were enhanced, we used the inverse relationship of recruitment with distance from the reserves to determine the spatial scale and magnitude of larval export. Our results suggest that larval export from these reserves enhances recruitment to fished areas within several kilometers. This study supports the idea that increased production in reserves may subsidize fisheries outside their borders, even for species with immobile adults.

KEY WORDS: Larval export · Marine protected area · Larval dispersal · Mussel · Perna perna · Recruitment Spillover Conservation

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Cite this article as: Pelc RA, Baskett ML, Tanci T, Gaines SD, Warner RR (2009) Quantifying larval export from South African marine reserves. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 394:65-78

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