3 years ago

A multiple-species framework for integrating movement processes across life stages into the design of marine protected areas

A major objective of marine protected area (MPA) network design is to ensure the persistence of species with diverse life histories and functional traits. Considering how species differ in their propensity to move within and between MPAs is therefore a key consideration for multi-species MPA network design. Here, we propose a conceptual framework to incorporate ecological processes that affect movement at multiple life stages into the MPA network design process. We illustrate how our framework can be implemented using a set of hypothetical species that represent regional trait diversity in coastal British Columbia, Canada. We focused on two ecological processes: (1) dispersal during the larval phase and (2) daily home range movement during the adult phase. To identify functional connectivity patterns, we used a biophysical model to simulate larval dispersal, and then prioritized highly-connected patches using a reserve selection algorithm. To ensure that individual reserves were commensurate with home ranges, we also imposed reserve size constraints. Candidate areas for protection were identified based on multi-species connectivity patterns and home range size constraints. Collectively, this conceptual framework offers a flexible approach to multi-species, cross-life stage conservation planning, which can be further adapted to address complex life histories. As marine conservation efforts around the globe aim to design ecologically connected networks of protected areas, the integration of movement and connectivity data throughout ontogeny will be a key component of effective multi-species MPA network design.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0006320717306675

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