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Testing source-sink theory: the spill-over of mussel recruits beyond marine protected areas
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2012 (English)In: Landscape Ecology, ISSN 0921-2973, E-ISSN 1572-9761, Vol. 27, no 6, 859-868 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Source-sink theory has contributed to our understanding of the function of protected areas, particularly due to their role as population sources. Marine reserves are a preferred management tool for the conservation of natural populations, creating areas of good quality habitat and thus improving population connectivity by enhancing larval supply and recruitment among shores. Despite recent advances in the study of protected areas in the context of the source-sink theory, rigorous and empirical testing of marine reserves as metapopulation sources for the adjacent areas remain largely unexplored. We investigated the role of marine reserves as population sources, whether there was spill-over beyond the reserve boundaries and if so, whether spill-over was directional. We measured percentage cover and recruitment of mussels (Perna perna) at two reserves and two comparably sized exploited control areas on the south-east coast of South Africa where unprotected populations are severely affected by artisanal exploitation. Adult abundances were enhanced within reserves, but decreased towards their edges. We predicted that recruitment would mirror adult abundances and show directionality, with northern shores having greater recruitment following the prevalent northward flow of near-shore currents. There were, however, no correlations between adult abundances and recruitment for any months or shores, and no clear spatial patterns in recruitment (i.e. similar patterns occurred at reserves and controls). The results emphasise that, while reserves may act as important refuges by protecting adult abundances, their influence on promoting recovery of near-by exploited shores through larval spill-over may be overestimated.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 27, no 6, 859-868 p.
Keyword [en]
Connectivity, Intertidal, Metapopulation, Marine reserve, Mussels, Source-sink
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URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-80033DOI: 10.1007/s10980-012-9739-yISI: 000305218000006OAI: diva2:552002


Available from: 2012-09-12 Created: 2012-09-12 Last updated: 2012-09-12Bibliographically approved

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