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Marine protected areas increase temporal stability of community structure, but not density or diversity, of tropical seagrass fish communities
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
Number of Authors: 3
2017 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 12, no 8, e0183999Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Marine protected areas (MPAs) have been shown to increase long-term temporal stability of fish communities and enhance ecosystem resilience to anthropogenic disturbance. Yet, the potential ability of MPAs to buffer effects of environmental variability at shorter time scales remains widely unknown. In the tropics, the yearly monsoon cycle is a major natural force affecting marine organisms in tropical regions, and its timing and severity are predicted to change over the coming century, with potentially severe effects on marine organisms, ecosystems and ecosystem services. Here, we assessed the ability of MPAs to buffer effects of monsoon seasonality on seagrass-associated fish communities, using a field survey in two MPAs (no-take zones) and two unprotected (open-access) sites around Zanzibar (Tanzania). We assessed the temporal stability of fish density and community structure within and outside MPAs during three monsoon seasons in 2014-2015, and investigated several possible mechanisms that could regulate temporal stability. Our results show that MPAs did not affect fish density and diversity, but that juvenile fish densities were temporally more stable within MPAs. Second, fish community structure was more stable within MPAs for juvenile and adult fish, but not for subadult fish or the total fish community. Third, the observed effects may be due to a combination of direct and indirect (seagrass-mediated) effects of seasonality and, potentially, fluctuating fishing pressure outside MPAs. In summary, these MPAs may not have the ability to enhance fish density and diversity and to buffer effects of monsoon seasonality on the whole fish community. However, they may increase the temporal stability of certain groups, such as juvenile fish. Consequently, our results question whether MPAs play a general role in the maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning under changing environmental conditions in tropical seagrass fish communities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 12, no 8, e0183999
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Biological Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-147901DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0183999ISI: 000408693600076PubMedID: 28854231OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-147901DiVA: diva2:1150673
Available from: 2017-10-19 Created: 2017-10-19 Last updated: 2017-11-29Bibliographically approved

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Alonso Aller, ElisaEklöf, Johan S.
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