Ceccherelli, Giulia and Casu, Daniela and Pala, David and Pinna, Stefania and Sechi, Nicola (2006) Evaluating the effects of protection on two benthic habitats at Tavolara-Punta Coda Cavallo MPA (North-East Sardinia, Italy). Marine Environmental Research, Vol. 61 (2), p. 171-185. ISSN 0141-1136. Article.
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In this paper, two benthic habitats have been investigated in a fully protected site and two control sites at the Tavolara-Punta Coda Cavallo marine protected area (MPA) (NE Sardinia). Overall, a protection effect on the benthic assemblages was highlighted in the shallow subtidal (5 m deep) rather than at intertidal algal turf habitat. Structure of assemblages at the shallow subtidal habitat is different in the fully protected site vs. controls, while this was not true for the intertidal habitat. At the subtidal, this finding is probably linked to indirect effects due to an increase of consumers in the protected site (e.g., sea urchins), while the lack of direct impacts in the intertidal at control sites is indicative of very similar assemblages. Cover of encrusting algae was significantly higher at the subtidal protected site suggesting a possible higher grazing pressure. Possible causes underlying the inconsistency of results obtained between habitats include the possibility that trophic cascade effects have a different influence at different heights on the shore. The need to estimate the interconnection among benthic habitats through trophic links is also highlighted to provide an estimate of the vulnerability to protection of various habitats.
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