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MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 527:157-165 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11295

Effective protection of fish on inshore coral reefs depends on the scale of mangrove-reef connectivity

Tyson S. H. Martin1,*, Andrew D. Olds1,2, Kylie A. Pitt1, Alana B. Johnston1, Ian R. Butler3, Paul S. Maxwell1, Rod M. Connolly1

1Australian Rivers Institute—Coast and Estuaries, and School of Environment, Griffith University, Gold Coast, QLD 4222, Australia
2School of Science and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, QLD 4558, Australia
3Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Connectivity is an important consideration in conservation, but is rarely quantified when assessing marine reserve performance. Mangrove-reef connectivity is known to enhance reserve effectiveness when habitats are close together (<250 m apart). Coral reefs are, however, often farther from mangroves, making it difficult to integrate mangrove-reef connectivity into conservation more widely. To determine if connectivity affects reserve performance beyond 250 m, we examined effects on reef fish in Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia. Reserves affected fish assemblages and enhanced the abundances of harvested species and key functional groups on reefs within 500 m of mangroves (about 10 times greater inside reserves), but not on isolated reefs. Connectivity can affect reserve performance over broader distances than previously shown. We suggest that connectivity effects on inshore reef fish may simply be amplified on reefs located closest to adjacent mangroves, provided those reefs are within the migratory capabilities of fish. Mangrove-reef connectivity should be viewed as an important conservation target and may be broadly incorporated into reserve design by prioritizing the protection of seascapes where mangroves and reefs are closest.


KEY WORDS: Australia · Conservation planning · Coral reef · Fish · Seascape ecology · Mangrove · Marine reserve · Scale


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Cite this article as: Martin TSH, Olds AD, Pitt KA, Johnston AB, Butler IR, Maxwell PS, Connolly RM (2015) Effective protection of fish on inshore coral reefs depends on the scale of mangrove-reef connectivity. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 527:157-165. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11295

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