Assessing the effectiveness of a long-standing rocky intertidal protected area and its contribution to the regional conservation of species, habitats and assemblages

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Journal Article
Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 2013, 23 (1), pp. 111 - 123
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The acceptance of reserves as a useful management strategy relies on evidence of their effectiveness in preserving stocks of harvested species and conserving biodiversity. A history of ad hoc decisions in terrestrial and marine protected area planning has meant that many of these areas are contributing inefficiently to conservation goals. The conservation value of existing protected areas should be assessed when planning the placement of additional areas in a reserve network. This study tested (1) the effectiveness of protection for intertidal molluscs of a marine reserve (Bouddi Marine Extension, NSW, Australia) established in 1971, and (2) the contribution of the protected area to the conservation of regional species, assemblages, and habitats. The shell length and population density of one harvested (Cellana tramoserica), and three non-harvested species (Bembicium nanum, Morula marginalba, Nerita atramentosa) of intertidal molluscs were examined in the protected area and two reference locations over two seasons. The heavily collected limpet C. tramoserica was significantly larger in the protected area and was the only species to exhibit a significant difference. No species significantly differed in population density between the protected area and reference locations. Temporally replicated surveys of macro-molluscs at 21 locations over 75km of coastline identified that the existing protected area included 50% of species, two of five assemblage types and 19 of 20 intertidal rocky shore habitats surveyed in the study region. Reservation of a further three rocky reefs would protect a large proportion of species (71%), a representative of each assemblage and all habitat types. Despite originally being selected in the absence of information on regional biodiversity, the protected area is today an effective starting point for expansion to a regional network of intertidal protected areas. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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