The Science of Marine Reserves meta-analysis investigates three primary questions:
This meta-analysis is based on a database of studies that document biological effects of marine reserves compiled via a comprehensive survey of the peer-reviewed scientific literature. We included only peer-reviewed studies of fully-protected, no-take marine reserves and only those studies for which effects were measured for individual reserves.
Studies must have measured at least one of four key biological variables
Studies must have measured the variable(s) either:
The resulting database contains 149 peer-reviewed scientific publications published between 1977 and 2006 of 124 different marine reserves located in 29 countries. Because some reserves are studied in more than one publication and some publications study multiple reserves, the database includes 221 “studies.” We classified each reserve as being located in either a temperate (53 reserves) or tropical (71 reserves) ecosystem based on latitude, region, and habitat.
The results show that the abundance, diversity, biomass, and size of fishes, invertebrates, and seaweeds usually increase dramatically inside marine reserves. Species that are fished show the biggest changes, sometimes increasing 10 or 20 times in marine reserves. These outcomes are consistent across different habitats in tropical and temperate waters.
Learn more about the Science of Marine Reserves project.