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Quantifying the conservation value of seascape connectivity: a global synthesis
Author(s): Andrew D. Olds, Rod M. Connolly, Kylie A. Pitt, Simon J. Pittman, Paul S. Maxwell, Chantal M. Huijbers, Brad R. Moore, Simon Albert, David Rissik, Russell C. Babcock and Thomas A. Schlacher
NCCOS Center: CCMA
Center Team: Biogeography
Publication Type: Journal Article
Journal Title: Global Ecology and Biogeography
Date of Publication: 2015
Aim Connectivity structures populations, communities and ecosystems in the sea.
The extent of connectivity is, therefore, predicted to also influence the outcomes of
conservation initiatives, such as marine reserves. Here we review the published
evidence about how important seascape connectivity (i.e. landscape connectivity in
the sea) is for marine conservation outcomes.
Methods We analysed the global literature on the effects of seascape connectivity
on reserve performance.
Results In the majority of cases, greater seascape connectivity inside reserves
translates into better conservation outcomes (i.e. enhanced productivity and diversity).
Research on reserve performance is, however, most often conducted separately
from research on connectivity, resulting in few studies (< 5% of all studies
of seascape connectivity) that have quantified how connectivity modifies reserve
effects on populations, assemblages or ecosystem functioning in seascapes. Nevertheless,
evidence for positive effects of connectivity on reserve performance is
geographically widespread, encompassing studies in the Caribbean Sea, Florida
Keys and western Pacific Ocean.
Main conclusions Given that research rarely connects the effects of connectivity
and reserves, our thesis is that stronger linkages between landscape ecology and
marine spatial planning are likely to improve conservation outcomes in the sea. The
key science challenge is to identify the full range of ecological functions that are
modulated by connectivity and the spatial scale over which these functions enhance
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