This review paper deals with the problem of the design and operation of marine reserves in the context of modern views on the hierarchical organization of marine ecosystems. The state of the art in the theoretical aspect of the establishment and development of marine protected areas (MPAs) is discussed. Despite the increasing number of publications on MPAs, which are mainly focused on social and economic issues, studies devoted to the ecological bases for the establishment and operation of marine reserves are still scarce. However, the low efficiency of the existing MPAs and their systems may be a result of the lack of an ecological background in MPA designs. Recent threats to the diversity of marine organisms are analyzed, and changes in the relative significance of anthropogenic factors affecting the marine biological diversity are assessed. The hierarchical nature of and the existence of characteristic spatial scales in the marine ecosystems are critical issues that must be taken into account together with scale-oriented analysis of the anthropogenic threats. On the basis of the scale-oriented concept of the marine ecosystems, new theoretical approaches to the design and operation of MPAs are formulated. In particular, theoretical bases for the estimation of the minimal size of marine reserves and a hierarchical approach to the design of MPA systems are proposed. Formal schemes of classification of sea bottom communities (The Marine Habitat Classification for Britain and Ireland and EUNIS) are discussed.
Russian Journal of Marine Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 16, 2010
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