Rare evidences support that Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) enhance the stability of marine habitats and assemblages. Based on nine years of observation (2001–2009) inside and outside a well managed MPA, we assessed the potential of conservation and management actions to modify patterns of spatial and/or temporal variability of Posidonia oceanica meadows, the lower midlittoral and the shallow infralittoral rock assemblages. Significant differences in both temporal variations and spatial patterns were observed between protected and unprotected locations. A lower temporal variability in the protected vs. unprotected assemblages was found in the shallow infralittoral, demonstrating that, at least at local scale, protection can enhance community stability. Macrobenthos with long-lived and relatively slow-growing invertebrates and structurally complex algal forms were homogeneously distributed in space and went through little fluctuations in time. In contrast, a mosaic of disturbed patches featured unprotected locations, with small-scale shifts from macroalgal stands to barrens, and harsh temporal variations between the two states. Opposite patterns of spatial and temporal variability were found for the midlittoral assemblages. Despite an overall clear pattern of seagrass regression through time, protected meadows showed a significantly higher shoot density than unprotected ones, suggesting a higher resistance to local human activities. Our results support the assumption that the exclusion/management of human activities within MPAs enhance the stability of the structural components of protected marine systems, reverting or arresting threat-induced trajectories of change.

Protection enhances community and habitat stability: Evidence from a Mediterranean marine protected area

Bevilacqua S.;TERLIZZI, ANTONIO;
2013

Abstract

Rare evidences support that Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) enhance the stability of marine habitats and assemblages. Based on nine years of observation (2001–2009) inside and outside a well managed MPA, we assessed the potential of conservation and management actions to modify patterns of spatial and/or temporal variability of Posidonia oceanica meadows, the lower midlittoral and the shallow infralittoral rock assemblages. Significant differences in both temporal variations and spatial patterns were observed between protected and unprotected locations. A lower temporal variability in the protected vs. unprotected assemblages was found in the shallow infralittoral, demonstrating that, at least at local scale, protection can enhance community stability. Macrobenthos with long-lived and relatively slow-growing invertebrates and structurally complex algal forms were homogeneously distributed in space and went through little fluctuations in time. In contrast, a mosaic of disturbed patches featured unprotected locations, with small-scale shifts from macroalgal stands to barrens, and harsh temporal variations between the two states. Opposite patterns of spatial and temporal variability were found for the midlittoral assemblages. Despite an overall clear pattern of seagrass regression through time, protected meadows showed a significantly higher shoot density than unprotected ones, suggesting a higher resistance to local human activities. Our results support the assumption that the exclusion/management of human activities within MPAs enhance the stability of the structural components of protected marine systems, reverting or arresting threat-induced trajectories of change.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11368/2900594
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