"These studies are invaluable for understanding how to design networks of marine protected areas effectively," says Dr. Hogan. "The functioning, and therefore the success, of networks of MPAs designed for conserving species depends fundamentally on our deep understanding of larval migrations."
The authors caution that more work is needed to determine factors that cause larval dispersal to fluctuate from year to year.
"Our results reveal that developing a precise understanding of connectivity patterns is going to be more difficult than previously assumed, because they vary through time," says co-author Peter F. Sale, Assistant Director at UNU-INWEH.
"Long-term, we need to be building models that can simulate connectivity in ways that reproduce these year-to-year changes. Models that can do that will be broadly applicable and powerful management tools."
The study is part of the Coral Reef Targeted Research Project (CRTR), a World Bank and University of Queensland-led project funded by the Global Environment Facility. CRTR involves over 100 investigators from universities and research centers worldwide. Its Connectivity Working Group, led by Dr. Sale and managed by UNU-INWEH, focuses its research activity primarily in the western Caribbean.
These results add to the CRTR Project's impressive total of new science results on selected questions deemed key to improving management of coral reef systems worldwide.
|Contact: Terry Collins|
United Nations University