Caribbean Connectivity: Implications for Marine Protected Area Management


: Rikki Grober-Dunsmore, Ph.D.1, Brian D. Keller, Ph.D.2
1National Marine Protected Areas Center
2NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

Understanding connectivity among coral reef ecosystems is fundamental to conserving marine biodiversity and fisheries resources in the Caribbean. Because many marine protected areas (MPAs) are envisioned to enhance and conserve marine ecosystems on a scale larger than their boundaries, improving our knowledge of how connectivity functions and the implications of connectivity across time scales, spatial scales, and species is crucial for managing MPAs. However, connectivity is poorly understood and little is known about gene flow or the transport of diseases, nutrients, and sediments throughout the region. Consequently, predicting the effects of MPAs on local and regional populations is challenging.

The purpose of this symposium was to share cross-cutting research and management approaches for understanding biological connectivity in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico and to provide a forum for resource managers and the academic community to address questions on how to apply scientific information to better manage MPAs in the region.