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You don't call, you don't write: Connectivity in marine fish populations
Date:3/25/2009

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In the ecological terms, connectivity doesn't refer to how many wireless devices one owns, but rather the exchange of individuals among geographically separated populations. Setting up MPA networks to optimize connectivity is something policymakers grapple with. Thorrold describes this as The Goldilocks Effect. Create an MPA that's too small and too few larvae settle within the MPA to sustain the population. Create an MPA that's too big and all the juveniles remain in the reserves, out of the bounds of commercial fisheries. The trick is to create an MPA network that's just right.

Based on the accurate dispersal data from the study and the distances between marine preserves in Kimbe Bay, Thorrold notes, "This is the first indication that networks of marine preserves might actually function as we hoped." He adds, "Connectivity in the marine environment is such a hot topic because you really need to know [dispersal] information for effective conservation, but we have not had it up to now."

Thorrold and his colleagues are currently expanding their work to include species that spawn eggs directly into the pelagic ocean, like the commercially important groupers and snappers. Thorrold also recognizes that the DNA parentage analysis that he and his colleagues have performed around Kimbe Island is custom made for addressing fundamental questions about the evolutionary factors that established dispersal patterns in marine fish.

Hold the phone line, your kids may not be calling, but Thorrold and his colleagues are dialing in answers.


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Contact: Media Relations
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Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Source:Eurekalert

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