Biodivers Conserv (2018) 27:2217–2242
Key drivers of eﬀectiveness in small marine protected
John W. Turnbull
· Yasmina Shah Esmaeili
· Graeme F. Clark
Will F. Figueira
· Emma L. Johnston
· Renata Ferrari
Received: 21 September 2017 / Revised: 5 February 2018 / Accepted: 28 February 2018 /
Published online: 6 March 2018
© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018
Abstract Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a key management tool for the conserva-
tion of biodiversity and restoration of marine communities. While large, well-designed
and enforced MPAs have been found to be eﬀective, results from small MPAs vary. The
Hawkesbury Shelf, a coastal bioregion in New South Wales, Australia, has ten small, near-
shore MPAs known as Aquatic Reserves with a variety of protection levels from full no-
take to partial protection. This study assessed the eﬀectiveness of these MPAs and analysed
how MPA age, size, protection level, wave exposure, habitat complexity, and large canopy-
forming algal cover aﬀected ﬁsh, invertebrate and benthic communities. We found aspect,
protection level, complexity and algal canopy to be important predictors of communities
in these MPAs. Most MPAs, however, were not eﬀective in meeting their goals. Only full
no-take protection (three out of ten MPAs) had a signiﬁcant impact on ﬁsh assemblages.
One no-take MPA—Cabbage Tree Bay—which is naturally sheltered from wave action and
beneﬁts from an active local community providing informal enforcement, accounted for
Communicated by David Hawksworth.
John W. Turnbull and Yasmina Shah Esmaeili contributed equally and are co-lead authors.
This article belongs to the Topical Collection: Coastal and marine biodiversity.
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (https ://doi.org/10.1007/s1053
1-018-1532-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
* John W. Turnbull
Evolution and Ecology Research Centre, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences,
University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Group, University
of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
Sydney Institute of Marine Science, Chowder Bay Road, Mosman, NSW 2061, Australia
Australian Institute of Marine Sciences, PMB 3, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia