Landscape Ecology

, Volume 23, Supplement 1, pp 55–65

Influence of marine reserve size and boundary length on the initial response of exploited reef fishes in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, USA

  • Aaron Bartholomew
  • James A. Bohnsack
  • Steven G. Smith
  • Jerald S. Ault
  • Douglas E. Harper
  • David B. McClellan
Research Article


We examine the influence of reserve size and boundary length on the relative rate of fish density change in reserves versus fished reference reefs for three exploitable-sized reef fish categories: (1) combined fish (34 species of Haemulidae, Lutjanidae, Serranidae, and hogfish Lachnolaimus maximus); (2) Haemulidae (13 species); and (3) Lutjanidae (9 species). If reef habitat boundaries are highly permeable to fish movements then fish recovery within a reserve would be inversely proportional to: reserve perimeter (RP)/total reserve area (RA) (RP/RA). If, however, reef habitat boundaries are relatively impermeable barriers to fish movements, recovery within the reserve would be inversely proportional to: reserve boundary that intersects reef habitat (HI)/reef habitat area within the reserve (HA) (HI/HA). From 1994 to 2001 we monitored reef fishes within and outside of no-take marine reserves established in 1997 in the Florida Keys, USA. A significant majority of reserves had greater rates of density change than reference reefs for Lutjanidae and combined fish (22 of 24 reserves for both categories). Significantly higher rates of density change were found in ten reserves for Lutjanidae, two reserves for combined fish, and one reserve for Haemulidae. Reserves appeared to promote an increased density of exploitable fishes. A significant, negative, but weakly correlated relationship was found between the relative rate of density change (RDC) for combined fish and the HI/HA ratio. Reserve size and placement appeared to have a minimal effect upon RDC.


Landscape ecology Fish density Reserve boundary Habitat Perimeter to area ratio Marine reserve Conservation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aaron Bartholomew
    • 1
    • 2
  • James A. Bohnsack
    • 1
  • Steven G. Smith
    • 3
  • Jerald S. Ault
    • 3
  • Douglas E. Harper
    • 1
  • David B. McClellan
    • 1
  1. 1.National Marine Fisheries ServiceMiamiUSA
  2. 2.American University of SharjahSharjahUnited Arab Emirates
  3. 3.University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric ScienceMiamiUSA

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