Use of marine reserves as tools for biodiversity conservation/fishery management
I have been studying the function and theory of marine reserves since 1991. During this time I have been a member of two groups working to develop a theory of reserves, synthesise what is known about them and identify what we still need to find out. The Marine Reserves Working Group at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (headed by Jane Luchenco, Steve Palumbi and Steve Gaines) is primarily concerned with developing the theory, while the U.S. National Research Council Committee on Evaluation, Design and Monitoring of Marine Reserves is mainly charged with synthesizing information and identifying research priorities. Work with these groups is helping to push forward both the science of reserves, and the prospects for implementing them.
My field studies of reserves centred on two Caribbean islands: Saba and St. Lucia. Since 1991 I have been making annual censuses of reef fish and coral communities around the island of Saba to examine the efficacy of a marine reserve and broader coastal management initiatives there. In St. Lucia, since 1994 I have been undertaking a long term study of a wonderful system of reserves. In 1995, St. Lucia embarked upon an ambitious coastal management program to rehabilitate its severely overexploited reef fisheries, and reduce conflicts between fishing and the developing tourism industry. Fully-protected marine reserves lie at the heart of this program. The reserves are intended to reverse the effects of overfishing, supplement fisheries, increase biodiversity and recover more natural ecosystem functioning. Fishery support is expected to be achieved through build-up of spawning stock and spillover to adjacent fisheries, while larger fish stocks and improved reef condition will attract tourists. Four reserves were established over an 11km stretch of coast and are interspersed with fishing areas in a zonation plan called the Soufriere Marine Management Area. Compliance with no-take regulations has been high. Following reserve creation we have documented an extraordinarily rapid increase in biomass of commercially important reef fishes. In just over three years this has tripled inside reserves. More importantly, biomass has doubled in fishing grounds. One reason for the quick response in fishing grounds may be due to the large area that has been protected. In this case, 35% of coral reefs were protected, a much greater proportion of fishing grounds than is usual.
Since 1995, I have also been collaborating with some gifted modellers (biologists and economists - Josh Sladek Nowlis, Jack Pezzey and Lynda Rodwell) to examine questions about reserve performance. These models are now being used to develop guidance on reserve design and are generating exciting new predictions about their function.
Extinction risk in the sea
I have completed a study of the risk of extinction to marine species, together with my wife and research associate, Julie Hawkins, and a team of enthusiastic graduate students. The results are described elsewhere (see Research Grants section).
Impacts of fishing on coral reefs at population and ecosystem levels
Work on the effects of fishing on marine ecosystems has largely been a spin-off from my reserve studies. However, the alarming region-wide biodiversity losses I have documented have fuelled my efforts to search for better conservation tools for the marine environment.
Global distribution of coral reef biodiversity and definition of conservation priorities
My wife, Julie Hawkins, and I created a global database of coral reef fish biodiversity, in collaboration with members of the IUCN Coral Reef Fish Specialist Group, Chaired by Dr Don McAllister (Ocean Voice International) and Patty Almada-Villela. The project advanced understanding of the global patterns and determinants of marine biological diversity and provided urgently needed information to establish and guide conservation priorities for the tropical marine environment.
Impacts of pollution on coral reefs
In 1995 Josh Sladek Nowlis and I, together with collaborators in St. Lucia, made a study of the impact of sediment deposited on St. Lucian coral reefs by a tropical storm. I have since extended this study, in collaboration with several students (Maggy Nugues, Chris Schelten and Tessa McGarry) to look at the processes by which sedimentation degrades reefs and the extent to which it is undermining coastal management efforts such as the establishment of marine reserves.
Julie P. Hawkins (Research Associate). Working on impacts of recreational scuba diving on coral reefs, effects of marine reserves in St. Lucia, effects of fishing on coral reef fish communities, and global biodiversity distribution of reef fishes.
Chris Schelten (2003) (Post-doctoral research associate). Effects of pollution on the early life history of corals.
Fiona Gell (2001-2003) (Post-doctoral research associate). Working on effects of marine reserves on fishery yields in St. Lucia.
Lynda Rodwell (2001-2003) (Post-doctoral research associate). Economics of marine reserves.
||Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
||Towards a network of marine protected areas in the British Isles|
||Hotspots, endemism and the conservation of marine biodiversity.
Co-investigators (in York) Julie Hawkins and Colin McLean.|
||Department for International Development, UK. In collaboration with Marine Resources Assessment Group, Imperial College, London
||£302,287; York share £150,000
||Impact and amelioration of sediment and agro-chemical pollution in Caribbean coastal waters|
||Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation
||Challenging problems surrounding the use of marine reserves |
||UK Darwin Initiative for the Survival of Species
||Migratory behaviour and population status of whale sharks in Belize, and
the role of marine reserves in protecting them. Co-investigators Rachel
Graham and Will Heyman. |
||Natural Environment Research Council
||Cascading effects of marine reserve protection, sediment pollution and
natural disturbances on St. Lucian coral reefs. Co-investigator Julie
||Natural Environment Research Council
||Population structure and migratory behaviour of whale sharks, Rhincodon
typus, in Belize. Co-investigators Rachel Graham and Will Heyman. |
||World Wildlife Fund, Washington, DC
||Preparation of an educational resource pack on fully-protected marine
reserves to help people working to establish reserves to argue more
effectively for them. Co-investigator Julie Hawkins. |
||Natural Environment Research Council
||Large-scale, long term variation in reef fish community structure. |
||World Conservation Union Species Survival Commission
||Extinction risk in marine species. Co-investigator Julie Hawkins. |
||Natural Environment Research Council
||Ecosystem effects of cessation of fishing in St. Lucian marine reserves.
Co-investigator Julie Hawkins. |
||UK Darwin Initiative
||The role of marine reserves in sustaining fisheries and biodiversity on
St. Lucian coral reefs. Co-investigator Julie Hawkins. |
Leanne Mason (2004 onwards). Conservation priority areas and marine reserve network design in northern Europe. Co-supervised with Colin McClean.
Stephen Mangi (2003 onwards). Effects of Artisanal Fishing Gears on Kenya's Coral Reefs.
Andrea Saenz Arroyo de Los Cobos. (2000-2004). Fisheries and Conservation in the Gulf of California, Mexico.
Rachel Graham (1999-2003). Population dynamics and migratory behaviour of whale sharks.
Nola Barker (1999-2003). Perceptions of coral reefs and impacts of tourists in the Caribbean.
Chris Schelten (1997-2002). Impacts of sedimentation on recruitment, growth and survival of Caribbean corals.
Lynda Rodwell (1997-2001). Economic benefits of marine reserves in East Africa.
Maggy Nugues (1996-2000). Interactive effects of algal growth and sediment pollution on Caribbean coral reefs.
Full publications list
- Hawkins, J.P., C.M. Roberts & N. Barker (in press) Managing Recreational Use of Coral Reefs.
National Research Council Committee on the Evaluation, Design and Monitoring of Marine Reserves and Protected Areas. Houde, E. (Chair), F.C. Coleman, P.K. Dayton, D. Fluharty, G. Kelleher, S. Palumbi, A.M. Parma, S. Pimm, C.M. Roberts, S. Smith, G. Somero, R. Stoffle, J. Wilen and S. Roberts. Marine Protected Areas: Tools for Sustaining Ocean Ecosystems. National Academy Press, Washington, DC, pp.272, 2001.
Roberts, C.M. and J.P. Hawkins. Fully Protected Marine Reserves: A Guide. Endangered Seas Campaign, WWF-US, Washington DC, and University of York, UK. 131pp. Translated into Spanish and French. All language versions are available to download from: http://www.panda.org/resources/publications/water/mpreserves/mar_dwnld.htm
Polunin, N.V.C. and C.M. Roberts (eds), Reef Fisheries. Chapman and Hall, Series in Fish Biology and Fisheries No. 20. Chapman and Hall, London, pp. 477, 1996.
Chapters in books
- Roberts, C.M. (in press) Marine biodiversity: distribution and threats. In E. Chivian, ed. Human health consequences of biodiversity loss. Cambridge University Press and World Health Organisation.
Norse, E.A., L.B. Crowder, K. Gjerde, D. Hyrenbach, C.M. Roberts, C. Safina and M.E. Soule. (in press). The Potential for Reserves as an Ecosystem-based Management Tool in the Open Ocean. Chapter 18 in E. Norse & L. Crowder, eds. Marine Conservation Biology: The Science of Maintaining the Sea’s Biodiversity. Island Press, Washington DC, USA.
Roberts, C. M. Marine protected areas and biodiversity conservation. (in press). In E. Norse and L. Crowder, eds. Marine Conservation Biology: The Science of Maintaining the Sea’s Biodiversity. Island Press, Washington DC, USA.
Reynolds, J.D., N.K. Dulvy and C.M. Roberts. (in press). Exploitation and other threats to fish conservation. In P. Hart and J.D. Reynolds, eds, Fisheries Handbook (in 3 volumes), Blackwell Science, Oxford.
Roberts, C.M. (2000) Why does fishery management so often fail? Pages 170-192 in Huxham, M. and Sumner, D., eds. Science and environmental decision making. Harlow: Addison Wesley Longman.
Rodwell, L.D. and C.M. Roberts. (2000) Economics of no-take marine reserves. Pages 107-124 in: H. Cesar, ed. Economics of coral reefs: valuation and management issues, World Bank, Washington, D.C. 244pp.
Price, A.R.G., C.M. Roberts, and J.P. Hawkins. (1998) Recreational use of coral reefs in the Maldives and Caribbean. Chapter 9 in E.J. Milner Gulland and R. Mace, Conservation of Biological Resources, pages 242-260. Blackwell Science, Oxford.
Ormond, R.F.G. and C.M. Roberts. (1997). Biodiversity of coral reef fish, in R.F.G. Ormond, J.D. Gage and M.V. Angel (eds), Marine Biodiversity: Patterns and Processes. Cambridge University Press, UK, 216-257.
Polunin, N.V.C., C.M. Roberts, and D. Pauly (1996). Reef fisheries: problems and prospects, in N.V.C. Polunin and C.M. Roberts (eds.), Reef Fisheries, Chapman and Hall, London, 361-377.
Roberts, C.M. (1996). Settlement and beyond: population regulation and community structure, in N.V.C. Polunin and C.M. Roberts (eds.), Reef Fisheries, Chapman and Hall, London, 85-112.
- Roberts, C.M., J.P. Hawkins & F.R. Gell (in press). The role of marine reserves in achieving sustainable fisheries. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London.
- Rodwell, L.D. and C.M. Roberts (2005). Fishing and the impact of marine reserves in a variable environment. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 61: 2053-2068.
- Balmford A, Gravestock P, Hockley N, C. McClean and C.M. Roberts. (2004). The Worldwide costs of marine protected areas. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 101: 9694-9697.
- Chivian, E., C.M. Roberts and A. Bernstein. (2004) How much at risk are cone snails? Science 303: 956.
- Hawkins, J.P. and C.M. Roberts (2004) Effects of artisanal fishing on Caribbean coral reefs. Conservation Biology 18: 215-226.
- Hawkins, J.P. and C.M. Roberts (2003) Effects of fishing on sex-changing Caribbean parrotfishes. Biological Conservation 115: 213-226.
- Roberts, C.M. (2003) Our shifting perspectives on the oceans. Oryx 37: 166-177.
- Milner-Gulland, E.J., E.L. Bennett, K. Abernethy, M. Bakarr, R. Bodmer, J. Brashares, G. Cowlishaw, P. Elkan, H. Eves, J. Fa, C. Peres, C.M. Roberts, J. Robinson, M. Rowliffe & D. Wilkie. (2003) Wild meat: the bigger picture. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18: 351-357.
- Gell, F.R. and C.M. Roberts (2003) Benefits beyond boundaries: the fishery effects of marine reserves and fishery closures. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18: 448-455.
- Chivian, E., C.M. Roberts and A. Bernstein. (2003). The threat to cone snails. Science 302: 391.
- Roberts, C. M., S. Andelman, G. Branch, R. Bustamente, J.C. Castilla, J. Dugan, B. Halpern, K. Lafferty, H. Leslie, J. Lubchenco, D. McArdle, H. Possingham, M. Ruckleshaus, and R. Warner. (2003) Ecological criteria for evaluating candidate sites for marine reserves. Ecological Applications 13 (Supplement): S199-S214.
- Roberts, C.M., G. Branch, R. Bustamente, J.C. Castilla, J. Dugan, B. Halpern, K. Lafferty, H. Leslie, J. Lubchenco, D. McArdle, M. Ruckleshaus, and R. Warner. (2003) Application of ecological criteria in selecting marine reserves and developing reserve networks. Ecological Applications 13 (Supplement): S215-S228.
- Rodwell, L.D., E.B. Barbier, C.M. Roberts and T.R. McClanahan (2003) The importance of habitat quality for marine reserve-fishery linkages. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 60: 171-181.
- Nugues, M.M. and C.M. Roberts (2003). Partial mortality in massive reef corals as an indicator of sediment stress on coral reefs. Marine Pollution Bulletin 46: 314-323.
- Nugues, M.M. and C.M. Roberts (2003) Coral mortality and interaction with algae in relation to sedimentation. Coral Reefs 22: 507-516.
- Rodwell, L.D., E.B. Barbier, C.M. Roberts and T.R. McClanahan (2002) A model of tropical marine reserve-fishery linkages. Natural Resource Modeling
Roberts, C.M. and H. Sargant (2002) Fishery benefits of fully protected marine reserves: why habitat and behaviour are important. Natural Resource Modeling 15: 487-507.
Roberts, C.M. 2002. Deep impact: the rising toll of fishing in the deep sea. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 17: 242-245.
Roberts, C.M., C.J. McClean, J.E.N. Veron, J.P. Hawkins, G.R. Allen, D.E. McAllister, C.G. Mittermeier, F.W. Schueler, M. Spalding, F. Wells, C. Vynne and T.B. Werner (2002) Coral reef biodiversity and conservation. Science 296: 1026-1028.
Roberts, C.M., C.J. McClean, J.E.N. Veron, J.P. Hawkins, G.R. Allen, D.E. McAllister, C.G. Mittermeier, F.W. Schueler, M. Spalding, F. Wells, C. Vynne and T.B. Werner (2002) Marine biodiversity hotspots and conservation priorities for tropical reefs. Science 295: 1280-1284.
Roberts, C.M., J.A. Bohnsack, F.R. Gell, J.P. Hawkins and R. Goodridge. (2002). Marine reserves and fisheries management. Science 295: 1233-1235.
Nagelkerken, I., C.M. Roberts, G. van der Velde, M. Dorenbosch, M.C. van Riel, E. Cocheret de la Moriniere, P.H. Nienhuis. (2002). How important are mangroves and seagrass beds for coral reef fish? The nursery hypothesis tested at an island scale. Marine Ecology Progress Series 244: 299-305.
Roberts, C.M., J.A. Bohnsack, F.R. Gell, J.P. Hawkins and R. Goodridge. (2001). Effects of marine reserves on adjacent fisheries. Science, 294: 1920-1923.
Pimm, S.L., M. Ayres, A. Balmford, G. Branch, K. Brandon, T. Brooks, R. Bustamante, R. Costanza, R. Cowling, L.M. Curran, A. Dobson, S. Farber, G.A.B. da Fonseca, C. Gascon, R. Kitching, J. McNeely, T. Lovejoy, R.A. Mittermeier, N. Myers, J.A. Patz, B. Raffle, D. Rapport, P. Raven, C.M. Roberts, J.P. Rodriguez, A.B. Rylands, C. Tucker, C. Safina, C. Samper, M.L.J. Stiassny, J. Supriatna, D.H. Wall and D. Wilcove. (2001) Can we defy nature's end? Science 293: 2207-2208.
Roberts, C.M., B. Halpern, S.R. Palumbi and R.R. Warner. (2001) Designing Networks of Marine Reserves: Why Small, Isolated Protected Areas Are Not Enough. Conservation Biology in Practice 2(3), 10-17.
Hawkins, J.P., C.M. Roberts and V. Clark. (2000) The threatened status of restricted range coral reef fish species. Animal Conservation 3: 81-88.
Pezzey, J.C.V., C.M. Roberts and B.T. Urdal. (2000) A simple bioeconomic model of a marine reserve. Ecological Economics 33: 77-91.
Morris, A.V., C. M. Roberts and J. P. Hawkins. (2000) The threatened status of groupers (Epinephelinae). Biodiversity and Conservation 9: 919-942.
Roberts, C. M. Selecting the locations of marine reserves: optimality vs opportunism. (2000) Bulletin of Marine Science 66: 581-592.
Sladek Nowlis, J.S. and C.M. Roberts. (1999) Fisheries benefits and optimal design of marine reserves. Fishery Bulletin 97: 604-616.
Hawkins, J.P., C.M. Roberts, T. van’t Hof, K. de Meyer, J. Tratalos and C. Aldam. (1999) Effects of recreational scuba diving on Caribbean coral and fish communities. Conservation Biology: 13: 888-897.
- Roberts, C.M., and J.P. Hawkins. (1999) Extinction risk in the sea. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 14: 241-246.
Roberts, C.M. (1998) Sources, sinks and the design of marine reserve networks. Fisheries 23(7): 16-19.
Roberts, C.M. (1997) Connectivity and management of Caribbean coral reefs. Science, 278, 1454-1457.
Sladek Nowlis, J., C.M. Roberts, A. Smith and E. Siirila. (1997) Human enhanced impacts of a tropical storm on nearshore coral reefs. Ambio 26: 515-521.
Roberts, C.M. and J.P. Hawkins. (1997) How small can a marine reserve be and still be effective? Coral Reefs 16, 150.
Roberts, C.M. (1997) Ecological advice for the global fisheries crisis. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 12, 35-38.
Readman, J.W., I. Tolosa, Ah. Theem Law, J. Bartocci, T. Hamilton, L.D. Mee, A. Wagener, M. Le Tissier, C. Roberts, N. Downing and A.R.G. Price. (1996) Discrete bands of petroleum hydrocarbons and molecular organic markers identified within massive coral skeletons. Marine Pollution Bulletin 32, 437-443.
Refereed conference contributions
- Roberts, C.M. (1998). Permanent no-take zones: a minimum standard for effective marine protected areas. Pages 96-100 in M. Hatziolos, A.J. Hooten & M. Fodor, eds, Coral Reefs. Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Development. The World Bank, Washington, DC, 1998.
- Roberts, C.M. (1998) No-take marine reserves: unlocking the potential for fisheries. Pages 127-132 in Earll, R.C. (ed), Marine Environmental Management: Review of Events in 1997 and Future Trends. Candle Cottage, Kempley, Gloucester, GL18 2BU, 167pp.
- Hawkins, J.P. and C.M. Roberts. (1997) Estimating the carrying capacity of coral reefs for recreational scuba diving. Proc. 8th Int. Coral reef Symp., Panama, 2, 1923-1926.
- Nowlis, J.S. and C.M. Roberts. (1997) You can have your fish and eat it too: theoretical approaches to marine reserve design. Proceedings of the 8th Int. Coral reef Symp., Panama, 2, 1907-1910.
Selected scientific reports
- Roberts, C.M. (2004) Predicted impacts on deepwater fisheries and habitats of allowing access to the waters of the Azores EEZ by fishing vessels from other EU states. Environment Department, University of York.
- Gell, F.R. and C.M. Roberts. (2003). The fishery effects of marine reserves and fishery closures. WWF-US, Washington, DC. 89pp. http://www.worldwildlife.org/oceans/pdfs/fishery_effects.pdf
- Roberts, C.M., F.R. Gell, and J.P. Hawkins (2003) Protecting Nationally Important Marine Areas in the Irish Sea Pilot Project Region. Report to the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK.
- Gell, F.R., Clark, A. and C.M. Roberts (2002) Preliminary report on the economic effects of marine reserves on the reef fishery of Soufrière, Saint Lucia, West Indies. Environment Dept, University of York, UK
- Roberts, C.M. (2001). Comments on draft concept design for marine life protection areas in California. Report to World Wildlife Fund – US, 13pp.
- Roberts, C.M. (1999) Zoning of the Galápagos Marine Reserve. Report to World Wildlife Fund – US, 32pp.
- Hudson, E., J. Baillie, H. Hall, G. M. Mace, A. Punt, C. Roberts, Y. Sadovy, C. Safina, J. Sobel, and A. Vincent (1996) Threatened fish? Initial guidelines for applying the IUCN Red List criteria to marine fishes. IUCN
- Ormond, R.F.G. and Douglas, A. (eds.) (1996) Exploitation of coral reefs. British Ecological Society, Ecological Issues Booklet No. 7. British Ecological Society, London. 47pp. (co-author).
- Roberts, C.M. (in press) Turning the clock back 200 years: putting refuges back in the ocean. Currents, journal of the Marine Educators Association, Washington DC, USA.
- Roberts, C.M., J.P. Hawkins and F.R. Gell (2003) More fish in the sea. Planet Earth, Autumn 2003, pp 19-22. Natural Environment Research Council, UK.
- F.R. Gell & C.M. Roberts (2003) Marine reserves for fisheries management and conservation: a win-win strategy. El Anzuelo, International Institute for Environment and Development, London.
- Roberts, C.M. (2003) Enforcing no-take zones. In Marine Conservation, magazine of the Britain’s Marine Conservation Society, Ross-on-Wye, UK.
- Roberts, C.M. (1998) Don’t shoot the Stoplight! Reef Encounter 23: 13.
- Roberts, C.M. (1998) Overfishing: why we should stop fishing for a solution. Marine Conservation 4(2): 8-9. Marine Conservation Society, Ross-on-Wye, UK.
- Roberts, C.M. (1997) Marine Reserves are for fishermen. The Star, St. Lucia. August 1997.