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Climate resilience in marine protected areas and the 'Protection Paradox'


Bates, AE and Cooke, RSC and Duncan, MI and Edgar, GJ and Bruno, JF and Benedetti-Cecchi, L and Cote, IM and Lefcheck, JS and Costello, MJ and Barrett, N and Bird, TJ and Fenberg, PB and Stuart-Smith, RD, Climate resilience in marine protected areas and the 'Protection Paradox', Biological Conservation, 236 pp. 305-314. ISSN 0006-3207 (2019) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2019 Elsevier Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2019.05.005


Restricting human activities through Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is assumed to create more resilient biological communities with a greater capacity to resist and recover following climate events. Here we review the evidence linking protection from local pressures (e.g., fishing and habitat destruction) with increased resilience. Despite strong theoretical underpinnings, studies have only rarely attributed resilience responses to the recovery of food webs and habitats, and increases in the diversity of communities and populations. When detected, resistance to ocean warming and recovery after extreme events in MPAs have small effect sizes against a backdrop of natural variability. By contrast, large die-offs are well described from MPAs following climate stress events. This may be in part because protection from one set of pressures or drivers (such as fishing) can select for species that are highly sensitive to others (such as warming), creating a ‘Protection Paradox’. Given that climate change is overwhelming the resilience capacity of marine ecosystems, the only primary solution is to reduce carbon emissions. High-quality monitoring data in both space and time can also identify emergent resilience signals that do exist, in combination with adequate reference data to quantify the initial system state. This knowledge will allow networks of diverse protected areas to incorporate spatial refugia against climate change, and identify resilient biological components of natural systems. Sufficient spatial replication further offers insurance against losses in any given MPA, and the possibility for many weak signals of resilience to accumulate.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Reef Life Survey, citizen science, MPAs, reef fish, coral
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Edgar, GJ (Professor Graham Edgar)
UTAS Author:Barrett, N (Associate Professor Neville Barrett)
UTAS Author:Stuart-Smith, RD (Dr Rick Stuart-Smith)
ID Code:133070
Year Published:2019
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (LP100200122)
Web of Science® Times Cited:76
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2019-06-06
Last Modified:2020-01-06

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