Linking home ranges to protected area size: The case study of the Mediterranean Sea
Protected areas not allowing extractive activities (here called fully protected area) are a spatially explicit conservation management tool commonly used to ensure populations persistence. This is achieved when an adequate fraction of a species' population spends most of its time within the boundaries of the protected area. Within a marine context, home ranges represent a tractable metric to provide guidance and evaluation of fully protected areas. We compiled peer-reviewed literature specific to the home ranges of finfishes and invertebrates of ecological and/or commercial importance in the Mediterranean Sea, and related this to the size of 184 Mediterranean fully protected areas. We also investigated the influence of fully protected areas size on fish density in contrast to fished areas with respect to home ranges. Home range estimations were available for 11 species (10 fishes and 1 lobster). The European spiny lobster Palinurus elephas had the smallest home range (0.0039 ± 0.0014 km2; mean ± 1 SE), while the painted comber Serranus scriba (1.1075 ± 0.2040 km2) had the largest. Approximately 25% of Mediterranean fully protected areas are larger than 2 times the size of the largest home range recorded. Fish densities were significantly higher when fully protected areas were larger than the home range, while no change in density occurred when home ranges were larger than fully protected areas. These results display a direct link between the effectiveness of fully protected areas and species' home range, suggesting that fully protected areas of at least 3.6 km2 may increase the density of local populations of these coastal marine species.