Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 100
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Jaonalison, Henitsoa Mahafina, Jamal and Ponton, Dominique 2016. Fish post-larvae assemblages at two contrasted coral reef habitats in southwest Madagascar. Regional Studies in Marine Science, Vol. 6, p. 62.

    Ahmadia, Gabby N. Glew, Louise Provost, Mikaela Gill, David Hidayat, Nur Ismu Mangubhai, Sangeeta Purwanto, and Fox, Helen E. 2015. Integrating impact evaluation in the design and implementation of monitoring marine protected areas. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Vol. 370, Issue. 1681, p. 20140275.

    De Leo, Giulio A. and Micheli, Fiorenza 2015. The good, the bad and the ugly of marine reserves for fishery yields. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Vol. 370, Issue. 1681, p. 20140276.

    Fitzpatrick, BM Harvey, ES Langlois, TJ Babcock, R and Twiggs, E 2015. Effects of fishing on fish assemblages at the reefscape scale. Marine Ecology Progress Series, Vol. 524, p. 241.

    Fletcher, W. J. Kearney, R. E. Wise, B. S. and Nash, W. J. 2015. Large-scale expansion of no-take closures within the Great Barrier Reef has not enhanced fishery production. Ecological Applications, Vol. 25, Issue. 5, p. 1187.

    Muñoz, M. Reul, A. Plaza, F. Gómez-Moreno, M.-L. Vargas-Yañez, M. Rodríguez, V. and Rodríguez, J. 2015. Implication of regionalization and connectivity analysis for marine spatial planning and coastal management in the Gulf of Cadiz and Alboran Sea. Ocean & Coastal Management, Vol. 118, p. 60.

    Neat, Francis Pinto, Cecilia Burrett, Ian Cowie, Lewis Travis, Justin Thorburn, James Gibb, Fiona and Wright, Peter J. 2015. Site fidelity, survival and conservation options for the threatened flapper skate(Dipturus cf. intermedia). Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, Vol. 25, Issue. 1, p. 6.

    Parada, Carolina Hinckley, Sarah Horne, John Mazur, Michael Hermann, Albert and Curchister, Enrique 2015. Modeling connectivity of walleye pollock in the Gulf of Alaska: Are there any linkages to the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands?. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography,

    Thorson, James T Cope, Jason M Kleisner, Kristin M Samhouri, Jameal F Shelton, Andrew O and Ward, Eric J 2015. Giants' shoulders 15 years later: lessons, challenges and guidelines in fisheries meta-analysis. Fish and Fisheries, Vol. 16, Issue. 2, p. 342.

    Caveen, Alex J. Fitzsimmons, Clare Pieraccini, Margherita Dunn, Euan Sweeting, Christopher J. Johnson, Magnus L. Bloomfield, Helen Jones, Estelle V. Lightfoot, Paula Gray, Tim S. Stead, Selina M. and Polunin, Nicholas V.C. 2014. Marine Managed Areas and Fisheries.

    Chan, Matthew H. and Kim, Peter S. 2014. Modelling the Impact of Marine Reserves on a Population with Depensatory Dynamics. Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, Vol. 76, Issue. 9, p. 2122.

    Colléter, Mathieu Gascuel, Didier Albouy, Camille Francour, Patrice Tito de Morais, Luis Valls, Audrey and Le Loc'h, François 2014. Fishing inside or outside? A case studies analysis of potential spillover effect from marine protected areas, using food web models. Journal of Marine Systems, Vol. 139, p. 383.

    D'Arcy, Paul 2014. The Lawless Sea? Policy Options for Voluntary Compliance Regimes in Offshore Resource Zones in the Pacific. Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies, Vol. 1, Issue. 2, p. 297.

    Eddy, Tyler D. Pande, Anjali and Gardner, Jonathan P.A. 2014. Massive differential site-specific and species-specific responses of temperate reef fishes to marine reserve protection. Global Ecology and Conservation, Vol. 1, p. 13.

    Garcia, S.M. Rice, J. and Charles, A. 2014. Governance of Marine Fisheries and Biodiversity Conservation.

    Karnauskas, Mandy and Babcock, Elizabeth A. 2014. An analysis of indicators for the detection of effects of marine reserve protection on fish communities. Ecological Indicators, Vol. 46, p. 454.

    Lagabrielle, Erwann Crochelet, Estelle Andrello, Marco Schill, Steven R. Arnaud-Haond, Sophie Alloncle, Neil and Ponge, Benjamin 2014. Connecting MPAs - eight challenges for science and management. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, Vol. 24, Issue. S2, p. 94.

    Mateos-Molina, D. Schärer-Umpierre, M.T. Appeldoorn, R.S. and García-Charton, J.A. 2014. Measuring the effectiveness of a Caribbean oceanic island no-take zone with an asymmetrical BACI approach. Fisheries Research, Vol. 150, p. 1.

    Miller, Kelsey Irene and Russ, Garry Ronald 2014. Studies of no-take marine reserves: Methods for differentiating reserve and habitat effects. Ocean & Coastal Management, Vol. 96, p. 51.

    Pina-Amargós, Fabián González-Sansón, Gaspar Martín-Blanco, Félix and Valdivia, Abel 2014. Evidence for protection of targeted reef fish on the largest marine reserve in the Caribbean. PeerJ, Vol. 2, p. e274.


Burdens of evidence and the benefits of marine reserves: putting Descartes before des horse?

  • T.J. Willis (a1) (a2), R.B. Millar (a2), R.C. Babcock (a1) and N. Tolimieri (a1) (a3)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 June 2003

An extensive literature has appeared since 1990 on the study of ‘no-take’ marine reserves and their potential to make significant contributions to the conservation and management of fisheries, especially in tropical environments (see Polunin 1990; Roberts & Polunin 1991; DeMartini 1993; Roberts 1997; Allison et al. 1998; Guénette et al. 1998). The literature describes many potential benefits of marine reserves to fisheries, including increases in spawner-biomass-per-recruit and increases in larval supply from protecting ‘source’ populations (Jennings 2000). The important word here is ‘potential’. Some claims made by advocates of marine reserves might be regarded as optimistic, whereas critics of reserves might sometimes have been unduly harsh. Conservation goals for marine reserves are often poorly defined, and differences of opinion regarding the efficacy of reserves for fulfilling any of their stated goals can frequently be attributed to a lack of good information with which to predict their effects. Here, we critically examine the literature from 1990–2001 to determine (1) the relative effort put into empirical and theoretical approaches to predict reserve effects, and (2) the quality of empirical evidence available to support theoretical predictions. It is not the purpose of this article to single out particular studies for criticism (although this is sometimes inevitable to provide examples), nor to draw conclusions concerning the efficacy of marine reserves.

Corresponding author
Correspondence: Dr Trevor Willis, Centro Interdipartimentale di Ricerca per le Scienze Ambientali di Ravenna, Università di Bologna, Via Tombesi dall'Ova 55, I-48100 Ravenna, Italy. e-mail:
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Environmental Conservation
  • ISSN: 0376-8929
  • EISSN: 1469-4387
  • URL: /core/journals/environmental-conservation
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *