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Quantifying the conservation value of seascape connectivity: a global synthesis


Olds, AD and Connolly, RM and Pitt, KA and Pittman, SJ and Maxwell, PS and Huijbers, CM and Moore, BR and Albert, S and Rissik, D and Babcock, RC and Schlacher, TA, Quantifying the conservation value of seascape connectivity: a global synthesis, Global Ecology and Biogeography, 25, (1) pp. 3-15. ISSN 1466-822X (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1111/geb.12388



Connectivity structures populations, communities and ecosystems in the sea. The extent of connectivity is, therefore, predicted to also influence the outcomes of conservation initiatives, such as marine reserves. Here we review the published evidence about how important seascape connectivity (i.e. landscape connectivity in the sea) is for marine conservation outcomes.




We analysed the global literature on the effects of seascape connectivity on reserve performance.


In the majority of cases, greater seascape connectivity inside reserves translates into better conservation outcomes (i.e. enhanced productivity and diversity). Research on reserve performance is, however, most often conducted separately from research on connectivity, resulting in few studies (< 5% of all studies of seascape connectivity) that have quantified how connectivity modifies reserve effects on populations, assemblages or ecosystem functioning in seascapes. Nevertheless, evidence for positive effects of connectivity on reserve performance is geographically widespread, encompassing studies in the Caribbean Sea, Florida Keys and western Pacific Ocean.

Main conclusions

Given that research rarely connects the effects of connectivity and reserves, our thesis is that stronger linkages between landscape ecology and marine spatial planning are likely to improve conservation outcomes in the sea. The key science challenge is to identify the full range of ecological functions that are modulated by connectivity and the spatial scale over which these functions enhance conservation outcomes.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:conservation planning, ecological processes, ecosystem functioning, landscape ecology, marine reserves
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Ecological applications
Research Field:Ecosystem function
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Moore, BR (Dr Bradley Moore)
ID Code:121432
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:94
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2017-09-28
Last Modified:2017-11-02

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