Marine protected areas and resilience to sedimentation in the Solomon Islands
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The ability of marine protected areas (MPAs) to provide protection from indirect stressors, via increased resilience afforded by decreased impact from direct stressors, remains an important and unresolved question about the role MPAs can play in broader conservation and resource management goals. Over a five-year period, we evaluated coral and fish community responses inside and outside three MPAs within the Roviana Lagoon system in Solomon Islands, where sedimentation pressure from upland logging is substantial. We found little evidence that MPAs decrease impact or improve conditions and instead found some potential declines in fish abundance. We also documented modest to high levels of poaching during this period. Where compliance with management is poor, and indirect stressors play a dominant role in determining ecosystem condition, as appears to be the case in Roviana Lagoon, MPAs may provide little management benefit.
KeywordsMarine reserves Sedimentation Logging Cumulative impacts Dominant stressor Coral triangle
This work was supported by NSF Human Dimensions and Social Dynamics Program (Award #0826947 and #0827022) (BSH, Aswani, ML), the Pew Charitable Trust (through a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation, 2005) (Aswani), National Marine Sanctuaries MOA 2005-008/66832 (KAS), the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (BSH, KAS), and the Australian Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (Aswani, Albert). Thanks to residents of Baraulu village for hospitality during our research and to our local research team for logistical and field support in the Solomon Islands. This is contribution number HIMB #1529 and SOEST #8789 from the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology.
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