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Volume 26
Number 1
Spring 2009
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Information Crossfile
Published: 4 Sep 2015 (online)  •  14 Sep 2015 (in print)
The importance of research archives in national parks
Can marine reserves enhance fishery yield?
  How far should a marine protected area extend to provide refuge for fish near coral reefs?
Effects of increased nitrogen deposition in wilderness areas
Ecological traps: Implications for the conservation of animal populations
Alternative approaches to reserve design
The role of genetics in understanding landscape-level ecological processes
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How far should a marine protected area extend to provide refuge for fish near coral reefs?

Editor's Note: Following is a journal article summary of Canon Scholar Rikki Grober-Dunsmore's research by her Canon Scholar colleague Elizabeth Brusati.

By Elizabeth Brusati
Elizabeth Brusati was a 2001 Canon Scholar from the University of California, Davis. She is a project manager with the California Invasive Plant Council.

MARINE PROTECTED AREAS PROVIDE a safe place for fish and invertebrates to reproduce without fishing pressure. To design boundaries, managers need to understand how fish respond to habitat patches at the landscape scale. In Virgin Islands National Park (U.S. Virgin Islands), researchers found that reserves must include habitat patches that extend at least 1 kilometer (0.6 mi) away from the reefs.

Habitat diversity is often used to determine reserve boundaries. However, because coral-reef fish vary so much in their habitat requirements, diversity cannot always predict how many fish or which species will use an area. Types of habitat, specifically sea grass, may be more important. Thalassia testudinum was the most common species of sea grass in the study area. Sea grass serves as a nursery for juvenile fish and invertebrates. In this study, researchers counted the number of fish in and out of sea-grass patches, classifying them by feeding preference, degree of mobility, and age. The 118 species observed included grunts, groupers, and snappers. Measuring the coverage of sea grass patches with simple geographic information system (GIS) tools and habitat maps provided a good prediction of where the most reef fish would occur. Harvested fish species occurred more often within sea grass patches than outside of those areas. Reefs surrounded by large expanses of sea grass had the most species of fish, although even modest amounts of sea grass made a difference.

“Measuring the coverage of sea grass patches with simple … GIS tools and habitat maps provided a good prediction of where the most reef fish would occur.”

Many species living near the U.S. Virgin Islands are overfished. The correct placement of reserve boundaries is essential in maintaining populations. While sea grass is not the only factor that makes a good reserve, these results show that fish must be able to move among sea grass patches in order to keep populations healthy.


Grober-Dunsmore, R., T. K. Frazer, W. J. Lindberg, and J. Beets. 2007. Reef fish and habitat relationships in a Caribbean seascape: The importance of reef context. Coral Reefs 26:201–216.

Rikki Grober-Dunsmore was a 2002 Canon Scholar from the University of Florida. She is an associate professor at the Institute for Applied Sciences at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, South Pacific Islands.

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From the Guest Editor(s)
In This Issue
  Information Crossfile
Book Reviews
Masthead Information
The Canon National Parks Science Scholars Program: A legacy of science for national parks
Science for parks / parks for science: Conservation-based research in national parks
The rock and ice problem in national parks: An opportunity for monitoring climate change impacts
1,000 feet above a coral reef: A seascape approach to designing marine protected areas
Management strategies for keystone bird species: The Magellanic woodpecker in Nahuel Huapi National Park, Argentina
Climate change and water supply in western national parks
Mercury in snow at Acadia National Park reveals watershed dynamics
Organic pollutant distribution in Canadian mountain parks
Building an NPS training program in interpretation through distance learning
Musical instruments in the pre-Hispanic Southwest
Societal dynamics in grizzly bear conservation: Vulnerabilities of the ecosystem-based management approach
Linking wildlife populations with ecosystem change: State-of-the-art satellite ecology for national-park science
Whale sound recording technology as a tool for assessing the effects of boat noise in a Brazilian marine park
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