Long-distance (>40 km) dispersal from marine reserves is poorly documented; yet, it can provide essential benefits such as seeding fished areas or connecting marine reserves into networks.
This review undertook a meta-analysis to assess the spatial scale of marine connectivity.
The results suggest that the spatial scale of marine connectivity is underestimated due to the limited geographic extent of sampling designs. The study also found that the largest marine reserves (>1,000 km2) are the most isolated. The authors highlight the importance of their findings for the assessment of evolutionary, ecological, and socio-economic long-distance benefits of marine reserves.
It is concluded that existing methods to infer dispersal should consider the up-to-date genomic advances and also expand the spatial scale of sampling designs, scaling up dispersal studies at regional instead of local scales. It is also stated that incorporating long-distance connectivity in conservation planning will contribute to increase the benefits of marine reserve networks.
There is as well an interesting exchange related to this paper. Letters by Costello & Connor (2019)1 and by Manel et al. (2019)2 focus on estimating marine connectivity and its importance in relation to Biodiversity and MPAs. It is in general highlighted that marine connectivity has been underestimated.
Manel et al. (2019) Long-distance benefits of marine reserves: myth or reality? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 34:342-354.