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Ocean sprawl facilitates dispersal and connectivity of protected species
Henry, L.-A.; Mayorga-Adame, C.G.; Fox, A.D.; Polton, J.A.; Ferris, J.S.; McLellan, F.; McCabe, C.; Kutti, T.; Roberts, M.J. (2018). Ocean sprawl facilitates dispersal and connectivity of protected species. NPG Scientific Reports 8(1): 11 pp. https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-29575-4
In: Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group). Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2045-2322; e-ISSN 2045-2322, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Authors  Top 
  • Henry, L.-A.
  • Mayorga-Adame, C.G.
  • Fox, A.D.
  • Polton, J.A.
  • Ferris, J.S.
  • McLellan, F.
  • McCabe, C.
  • Kutti, T.
  • Roberts, M.J., more

Abstract
    Highly connected networks generally improve resilience in complex systems. We present a novel application of this paradigm and investigated the potential for anthropogenic structures in the ocean to enhance connectivity of a protected species threatened by human pressures and climate change. Biophysical dispersal models of a protected coral species simulated potential connectivity between oil and gas installations across the North Sea but also metapopulation outcomes for naturally occurring corals downstream. Network analyses illustrated how just a single generation of virtual larvae released from these installations could create a highly connected anthropogenic system, with larvae becoming competent to settle over a range of natural deep-sea, shelf and fjord coral ecosystems including a marine protected area. These results provide the first study showing that a system of anthropogenic structures can have international conservation significance by creating ecologically connected networks and by acting as stepping stones for cross-border interconnection to natural populations.

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