Deakin University

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Integrating larval connectivity into the marine conservation decision-making process across spatial scales

journal contribution
posted on 2023-02-02, 02:53 authored by D Muenzel, Kay CritchellKay Critchell, C Cox, SJ Campbell, R Jakub, W Suherfian, L Sara, I Chollett, Eric TremlEric Treml, M Beger
Larval dispersal connectivity is typically integrated into spatial conservation decisions at regional or national scales, but implementing agencies struggle with translating these methods to local scales. We used larval dispersal connectivity at regional (hundreds of kilometers) and local (tens of kilometers) scales to aid in design of networks of no-take reserves in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. We used Marxan with Connectivity informed by biophysical larval dispersal models and remotely sensed coral reef habitat data to design marine reserve networks for 4 commercially important reef species across the region. We complemented regional spatial prioritization with decision trees that combined network-based connectivity metrics and habitat quality to design reserve boundaries locally. Decision trees were used in consensus-based workshops with stakeholders to qualitatively assess site desirability, and Marxan was used to identify areas for subsequent network expansion. Priority areas for protection and expected benefits differed among species, with little overlap in reserve network solutions. Because reef quality varied considerably across reefs, we suggest reef degradation must inform the interpretation of larval dispersal patterns and the conservation benefits achievable from protecting reefs. Our methods can be readily applied by conservation practitioners, in this region and elsewhere, to integrate connectivity data across multiple spatial scales.



Conservation Biology

Article number

ARTN e14038


London, Eng.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal