MEPS 481:11-24 (2013)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10204

‘Reserve effect’ within a temperate marine protected area in the north-eastern Atlantic (Arrábida Marine Park, Portugal)

Bárbara Horta e Costa1,2, Karim Erzini2, Jennifer E. Caselle3, Henrique Folhas1, Emanuel J. Gonçalves1,*

1Eco-Ethology Research Unit, ISPA - Instituto Universitário, R. Jardim do Tabaco 34, 1149-041 Lisboa, Portugal
2Centre of Marine Sciences, CCMAR, University of Algarve, Campus de Gambelas, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal
3Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Benefits of marine protected areas depend on local ecological and socio-cultural aspects which are critical to the success of the protection measures. In particular, before-after comparisons are indispensable to disentangle the effects of protection from those of different physical and ecological characteristics among areas. Using underwater visual surveys, we assessed whether biomass and abundance of temperate reef fish assemblages and target invertebrates increased inside a no-take area in the Arrábida Marine Park (Portugal) 3 to 4 yr after its establishment. Data were compared to a previous study, conducted 10 yr before protection was effective. Control-effect comparisons after reserve establishment showed a positive response of legal-size demersal fish and below legal-size target invertebrates. The first evidence of protection was found in biomass but not in numbers. Non-target groups and below legal-size demersal fish had a significant interaction among reserve and habitat complexity indices for either density or biomass, suggesting a lack of a reserve effect. Before-after comparisons revealed non-significant patterns of increase in numbers of target species compared to non-target ones. The most important commercial species showed the largest increase in density after protection was established. Significantly higher abundances and proportionally heavier individuals of these species were also found inside the reserve in the control-effect comparisons. These findings are reinforced by an increasing trend in landings which are consistent with the early detection of a reserve effect.


KEY WORDS: Marine protected area · Before-after data · Temperate reef fishes · Target species · Habitat · Artisanal fisheries


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Cite this article as: Horta e Costa B, Erzini K, Caselle JE, Folhas H, Gonçalves EJ (2013) ‘Reserve effect’ within a temperate marine protected area in the north-eastern Atlantic (Arrábida Marine Park, Portugal). Mar Ecol Prog Ser 481:11-24. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10204

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