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Low connectivity compromises the conservation of reef fishes by marine protected areas in the tropical South Atlantic

TitleLow connectivity compromises the conservation of reef fishes by marine protected areas in the tropical South Atlantic
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsEndo, CAkemi Kaji, Gherardi, DFrancisco, Pezzi, LPonzi, Lima, LNascimento
JournalScientific Reports
Volume9
Pagination8634
ISSN2045-2322
Abstract

The total spatial coverage of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) within the Brazilian Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) has recently achieved the quantitative requirement of the Aichii Biodiversity Target 11. However, the distribution of MPAs in the Brazilian EEZ is still unbalanced regarding the proportion of protected ecosystems, protection goals and management types. Moreover, the demographic connectivity between these MPAs and their effectiveness regarding the maintenance of biodiversity are still not comprehensively understood. An individual-based modeling scheme coupled with a regional hydrodynamic model of the ocean is used to determine the demographic connectivity of reef fishes based on the widespread genus Sparisoma found in the oceanic islands and on the Brazilian continental shelf between 10° N and 23° S. Model results indicate that MPAs are highly isolated due to extremely low demographic connectivity. Consequently, low connectivity and the long distances separating MPAs contribute to their isolation. Therefore, the current MPA design falls short of its goal of maintaining the demographic connectivity of Sparisoma populations living within these areas. In an extreme scenario in which the MPAs rely solely on protected populations for recruits, it is unlikely that they will be able to effectively contribute to the resilience of these populations or other reef fish species sharing the same dispersal abilities. Results also show that recruitment occurs elsewhere along the continental shelf indicating that the protection of areas larger than the current MPAs would enhance the network, maintain connectivity and contribute to the conservation of reef fishes.

URLhttps://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-45042-0
DOI10.1038/s41598-019-45042-0