Home >> Publications >> Low Connectivity between Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas: A Biophysical Modeling Approach for the Dusky Grouper Epinephelus marginatus

Low Connectivity between Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas: A Biophysical Modeling Approach for the Dusky Grouper Epinephelus marginatus

TitleLow Connectivity between Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas: A Biophysical Modeling Approach for the Dusky Grouper Epinephelus marginatus
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsAndrello, M, Mouillot, D, Beuvier, J, Albouy, C, Thuiller, W, Manel, S
Journal{PLoS} {ONE}
Volume8
Paginatione68564
Abstract

Marine protected areas ({MPAs}) are major tools to protect biodiversity and sustain fisheries. For species with a sedentary adult phase and a dispersive larval phase, the effectiveness of {MPA} networks for population persistence depends on connectivity through larval dispersal. However, connectivity patterns between {MPAs} remain largely unknown at large spatial scales. Here, we used a biophysical model to evaluate connectivity between {MPAs} in the Mediterranean Sea, a region of extremely rich biodiversity that is currently protected by a system of approximately a hundred {MPAs}. The model was parameterized according to the dispersal capacity of the dusky grouper Epinephelus marginatus, an archetypal conservation-dependent species, with high economic importance and emblematic in the Mediterranean. Using various connectivity metrics and graph theory, we showed that Mediterranean {MPAs} are far from constituting a true, well-connected network. On average, each {MPA} was directly connected to four others and {MPAs} were clustered into several groups. Two {MPAs} (one in the Balearic Islands and one in Sardinia) emerged as crucial nodes for ensuring multi-generational connectivity. The high heterogeneity of {MPA} distribution, with low density in the South-Eastern Mediterranean, coupled with a mean dispersal distance of 120 km, leaves about 20% of the continental shelf without any larval supply. This low connectivity, here demonstrated for a major Mediterranean species, poses new challenges for the creation of a future Mediterranean network of well-connected {MPAs} providing recruitment to the whole continental shelf. This issue is even more critical given that the expected reduction of pelagic larval duration following sea temperature rise will likely decrease connectivity even more.

URLhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0068564
DOI10.1371/journal.pone.0068564