Marine reserves

MSEL have worked on several aspects of marine reserve design and impacts.

Impacts of marine reserves

We have been fortunate to study the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (ECLSP) in the central Bahamas, which is one of the World’s oldest and most effective marine parks. Our research has made a number of points:

1) Increases in parrotfish biomass inside parks can reduce levels of macroalgae, foster greater coral recruitment, and enhance coral recovery.

2) In addition to increasing the biomass of a number of fish groups (which isn’t surprising), marine reserves can also increase the diversity of a number of fish groups.

3) Detecting marine reserve impacts is challenging because of the inherent natural variability in marine ecosystems. By surveying reef systems in the Bahamas at multiple scales, we distinguish genuine marine reserve impacts from potentially misleading effects.

4) Elevated densities of fish predators have prevent the recovery of the sea urchin Diadema inside the ECLSP.