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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 388:159-167 (2009)  -  DOI:

Habitat patches that cross marine reserve boundaries: consequences for the lobster Jasus edwardsii

Debbie J. Freeman1,3,*, Alison B. MacDiarmid2, Richard B. Taylor1

1University of Auckland, Leigh Marine Laboratory, PO Box 349, Warkworth 0941, New Zealand
2National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, PO Box 14901, Kilbirnie, Wellington 6241, New Zealand
3Present address: Department of Conservation, Research and Development Group, PO Box 10-420, Wellington 6143, New Zealand

ABSTRACT: The spatial configuration of marine reserves should reflect management objectives. If reserves are intended to conserve ‘natural’ biological communities, then reserve boundaries should follow barriers to species movement, but if cross-boundary movement of harvestable individuals associated with certain habitat is desired for fisheries purposes, then boundaries should intersect that habitat. We relate movement patterns of the reef-associated spiny lobster Jasus edwardsii (Palinuridae) to the relative positions of habitat and reserve boundaries in a 24.5 km2 marine reserve on the temperate northeast coast of New Zealand by tagging >5000 individuals and recapturing a subset over 3 yr using pots. Lobster movement patterns were sex- and size-dependent, but nearly all recaptured individuals were found on the same rocky reef on which they were tagged, indicating that lobsters were reluctant to cross the muddy sediments between reefs. Lobsters became increasingly likely to migrate from the reserve into the heavily fished adjacent coast as the proportion of their reef that was unprotected increased. Corresponding changes in average catch per unit effort (CPUE) and size of all lobsters (tagged and untagged) occurred within the protected parts of the reefs, with lobster densities on a fully protected reef being 8-fold higher than densities on the protected part of a reef that was 91% unprotected.

KEY WORDS: Exploited species · Habitat boundary · Tag-recapture · Marine protected areas

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Cite this article as: Freeman DJ, MacDiarmid AB, Taylor RB (2009) Habitat patches that cross marine reserve boundaries: consequences for the lobster Jasus edwardsii. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 388:159-167.

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