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Ocean reserves miss key target

Nature volume 511, pages 266267 (17 July 2014) | Download Citation

Marine reserves may not be protecting the world's most vulnerable reef-fish communities.

Marine protected areas exist mainly in regions with a large number of different fish species. Valeriano Parravicini at the Centre for the Synthesis and Analysis of Biodiversity in Aix-en-Provence, France, and his colleagues mapped the ranges of more than 6,000 species of tropical reef fishes and quantified the sensitivity of these species to human threats.

They found that areas where species are vulnerable to extinction do not often overlap with protected regions of high species richness. For example, seas off the coast of Chile and the eastern Atlantic were areas of high vulnerability, but species-rich hotspots are centred around Indonesia and Australia.

More marine areas need to be protected to maintain tropical fish biodiversity, the authors say.

Ecol. Lett. (2014)

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