Publication details.


Author(s):Andres. Ospina-Alvarez, S. de Juan, Josep. Alós, G. Basterretxea, A. Alonso-Fernández, G. Follana-Berná, M. Palmer, I A. Catalán
Title:MPA network design based on graph theory and emergent properties of larval dispersal
JCR Impact Factor:2.824
Despite the recognised effectiveness of networks of Marine Protected
Areas (MPAs) as a biodiversity conservation instrument, nowadays MPA
network design frequently disregards the importance of connectivity
patterns. In the case of sedentary marine populations, connectivity
stems not only from the stochastic nature of the physical environment
that affects early-life stages dispersal, but also from the spawning
stock attributes that affect the reproductive output (e.g., passive eggs
and larvae) and its survivorship. Early-life stages are virtually
impossible to track in the ocean. Therefore, numerical ocean current
simulations coupled to egg and larval Lagrangian transport models remain
the most common approach for the assessment of marine larval
connectivity. Inferred larval connectivity may be different depending on
the type of connectivity considered; consequently, the prioritisation of
sites for marine populations' conservation might also differ. Here, we
introduce a framework for evaluating and designing MPA networks based on
the identification of connectivity hotspots using graph theoretic
analysis. We use as a case of study a network of open-access areas and
MPAs, off Mallorca Island (Spain), and test its effectiveness for the
protection of the painted comber \emph{Serranus scriba}. Outputs from
network analysis are used to: (1) identify critical areas for improving
overall larval connectivity; (2) assess the impact of species'
biological parameters in network connectivity; and (3) explore
alternative MPA configurations to improve average network connectivity.
Results demonstrate the potential of graph theory to identify
non-trivial egg/larval dispersal patterns and emerging collective
properties of the MPA network which are relevant for increasing
protection efficiency.

Related staff

  • Andrés Alonso Ospina Alvarez
  • Silvia de Juan Mohan
  • Ignacio A. Catalán Alemany
  • Gotzon Basterretxea Oyarzabal
  • Josep Alós Crespí
  • Related departments

  • Marine Ecology
  • Related projects

  • RYC ALOS (030)
  • Co-Trip CTA 058