Honors College Thesis

 

Marine reserves in The Bahamas and Ecuador : a scientific and socioeconomic perspective Public

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  • Marine reserves are known to directly replenish overfished species. However, the community-wide effects of reserves are less clear. I examined the community of coralreef fishes in a large, fully protected marine reserve in The Bahamas: the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. Visual-transect surveys provided estimates and comparisons of the density and size of all fishes on reefs located both inside and outside the reserve (n = 5 reefs each). Apex predators were larger and more abundant inside the reserve, resulting in much greater biomass there. Mid-trophic-level species had somewhat higher biomass outside of the reserve, where abundance of large predators was lower. Low-trophic-level species showed trends of higher biomass in the reserve. Although the community-wide effects of the reserve are complex, this general pattern is consistent with the existence of a trophic cascade through strong top-down effects of apex predators. I also considered how subsistence-level fishing communities interact with protected marine life in a marine reserve in Ecuador: the Machalilla National Park. I examined the conflicting interests of park protection, fishing, and tourism. By analyzing these three categories, I summarized the needs and values of each group and how they interacted with each other and the environment.
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