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Journal of Marine Biology
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 7851425, 10 pages
Research Article

Linking Protection with the Distribution of Grouper and Habitat Quality in Seychelles

1Latvian State Forestry Research Institute “Silava”, Salaspils LV-2169, Latvia
2Bournemouth University, Poole, Dorset BH12 5BB, UK
3Global Vision International Seychelles, Victoria, Mahé, Seychelles
4Seychelles National Parks Authority, Victoria, Mahé, Seychelles

Received 1 April 2016; Accepted 27 July 2016

Academic Editor: Garth L. Fletcher

Copyright © 2016 Samantha J. Howlett et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Marine protected areas can be designated for a number of reasons, but exactly how they provide benefits is only recently being understood. We assessed the effect of protection on the size and distribution of six common species of grouper in a coral reef ecosystem. Data on live coral cover, coral genus diversity, and coral colony structure type were also compared to give an indication of reef quality between sites. A significant interaction was found for Aethaloperca rogaa and Cephalopholis nigripinnis, indicating that protected areas held greater numbers of smaller and median sized fish of these species than unprotected areas. Similar but nonsignificant trends were found for Cephalopholis miniata and Cephalopholis argus. For Anyperodon leucogrammicus, MPAs held significantly more fish than unprotected sites, but as the increase was equal between size categories there was no interaction. The last species Epinephelus fasciatus, which was one of the smallest species, had no significant interaction, similar mean counts between protected and unprotected areas, and no obvious strong favouritism for particular sites with values indicating better reef quality, indicating intraspecies competition. The results of this study indicate that while the MPAs in this study are likely too small to benefit large groupers, the improvements to habitat quality have indirect benefits to groupers, especially at their earlier life stages.