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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 292 - Feature article
Photo taken in the Masaplod Norte marine reserve by Jasper Maypa.

Russ GR, Stockwell B, Alcala AC


Inferring versus measuring rates of recovery in no-take marine reserves


No-take marine reserves - in which all forms of exploitation are banned - play a key role in preserving ecosystems and sustaining fisheries. Garry Russ, Brian Stockwell and Angel Alcala investigated the rate at which fished populations and ecosystems might recover inside no-take marine reserves. Over a period of almost two decades, the authors monitored biomass of large predatory coral reef fish, such as the snapper (Lutjanus argentimaculatus) (photo), inside and outside two small marine reserves in the Philippines. They also compared (at one time) abundance of such fishes inside and outside 13 other no-take reserves to both measure and infer recovery rates. Direct measurements of recovery indicated that biomass of these fishes could increase inside reserves by 6 to 10 times over periods of protection of 9 to18 years. The inferred rate of recovery was 9 times over 13 years of protection. Thus, using similar methods of reserve protection and census on the same target group in similar areas, and correcting for habitat effects on fish biomass, it is possible to estimate rates of recovery in no-take marine reserves. The study indicates that even small reserves play animportant role in enhancing the regional recovery of fished populations and ecosystems.


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