Representation and Replication
Representation and replication help spread risk in event of a major lethal or sublethal disturbance. To capture the complete array of biodiversity, MPAs should be selected to represent the full national or regional range of coral reefs, and major reef habitat types (e.g., fore-reef, back reef, reef flat) and should include other functionally linked habitats such as sandy and rocky seabed, seagrass, mangrove, coastal, and riparian areas. If biodiversity of a system is fully represented in multiple examples, the likelihood of losing all of it to an event is substantially decreased. Because this applies to any disturbance, it is a ‘no-regrets’ strategy when designing and delineating protected areas. For more information on incorporating this principle into MPA Design please refer to Resilient MPA Design.
Representation is about more than just habitats and species. Representation is about including the diversity of characteristics found in an area. There may be special physical features, latitudinal distributions, or energy regimes that should be considered. Neighboring habitats that are functionally linked to coral reefs by physical and ecological processes—including the transport of nutrients by currents or daily feeding migrations of reef species—are integral to the health and resilience of coral reefs.
Some examples of what should be considered for representation are below:
- The full range of representative reef types to ensure that a complete array of biodiversity is protected (e.g., patch, barrier, fringing, etc.)
- The full gradient/range of reef community conditions that diminish with distance from shore (e.g., turbidity, salinity, and pollution)
- The full range of prevailing winds and exposure to wave energy and oceanic water
- The full range of oceanographic features such as upwelling and strong currents that ultimately influence differences in community structure and exposure to stressful conditions
Replication of distinct, representative habitats in MPA networks helps ensure that refugia for each community type remain after a catastrophic die-off. That will help maintain viable sources of larvae to seed the recovery of susceptible areas in times of stress. The suggested absolute minimum number of replicates of a particular habitat type is three; however, including more replicates should be a priority whenever possible.
R2 Training Manual Module 3 — Principles and Components of Resilience (download pdf, 333k)