A Network of Grassroots Reserves Protects Tropical River Fish Diversity

‘No-take’ marine reserves have become a cornerstone of marine ecosystem-based fisheries management, and their benefits for adjacent fisheries are maximized when reserve design fosters synergies among nearby reserves. The applicability of this marine reserve network paradigm to riverine biodiversity and inland fisheries remains largely untested. This paper shows that reserves created by 23 separate communities in Thailand’s Salween basin have markedly increased fish richness, density, and biomass relative to adjacent areas. Moreover, key correlates of the success of protected areas in marine ecosystems—particularly reserve size and enforcement—predict differences in ecological benefits among riverine reserves. Occupying a central position in the network confers additional gains, underscoring the importance of connectivity within dendritic river systems. The emergence of network-based benefits is remarkable given that these reserves are young (less than 25 years old) and arose without formal coordination.

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Koning, A.A., K.M. Perales, E. Fluet-Chouinard, and P.B. McIntyre

Publication Date

25 November 2020

Publication Name



aquatic protected areas; community management; fish conservation; freshwater conservation; inland fisheries; monitoring and evaluation