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Marine protected areas conserve Mediterranean red coral
Date:5/11/2010

populations all over the Mediterranean Basin and the fact that some colonies with basal diameters of less than two millimetres are now sexually fertile.

Three Decades of Protection

The researchers chose these three Marine Protected Areas because they are 30 years old. They forecast the structure of red coral populations when they were created, and three decades later, they have returned to repeat the process.

According to Linares, "these MPAs are home to extraordinarily large colonies, at depths of less than 50 metres and also deep-dwelling populations, in comparison to the populations studied previously". This confirms that MPAs are effective as measures to conserve this species, "providing, as is the case in these three MPAs, that they are well managed and that constant surveillance guarantees the protection of this species," the authors state.

"But the forecast for the future of populations reveals that 30 years of protection are not enough to allow colonies to reach the size of those observed in the 1960s (with diameters of around 45 mm)", Garrabou underlines.

Linares warns that if the colonies continue to diminish, the resilience of this species (its ability to absorb disturbances without suffering changes) will be affected. "The lack of large colonies has significant implications for future of populations, because it is these colonies that contribute to reproduction and, therefore, the persistence of these populations," the researcher says.


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