Positive Effects from MPAs

In the world of marine conservation, marine protected areas (MPAs) are regarded as a necessary fortification against species and habitat loss. They are, effectively, oasis in the ocean should it ever become an actual barren desert. However, it wasnt until recently that researchers were able to say with clarity that such areas were helpful in serving as sources of animals – and especially larvae – for connecting areas or for bolstering commerically important fisheries.

PLOS One published Rapid Effects of Marine Reserves via Larval Dispersal this month. The paper viewed recruitment over the Puerto Penasca marine reserve network in the Gulf of California particularly addressing black murex and rock scallop. Intriguingly, they found that positive effects from the network can happen quite rapidly, but shows a marked amount of flux in results from around the local areas.

Or, more simply, you can certainly increase numbers of juveniles if there are lots of adults in nearby MPAs, but those juveniles aren’t sprinkled equally around. It might seem rather intuitive and simple, but its going to be interesting to see the future research that attempts to explain why this happens, what effects recruitment, and how we can better use such knowledge to improve MPA design.