Casu, Daniela and Ceccherelli, Giulia and Curini Galletti, Marco and Castelli, Alberto (2006) Human exclusion from rocky shores in a mediterranean marine protected area (MPA): an opportunity to investigate the effects of trampling. Marine Environmental Research, Vol. 62 (1), p. 15-32. ISSN 0141-1136. Article.
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The effect of human trampling on the abundance of small invertebrates inhabiting rocky shallow bottoms was studied at Asinara Island MPA. To this aim we have conducted two experiments. The first was a quantitative study and tested the hypothesis that small invertebrates are more abundant at no-entry locations than at the location visited by tourists through time (before, during and after tourist season). The second was a manipulative experiment and tested the hypothesis that the abundance of small invertebrates is indirectly related to experimental trampling intensities. The effect due to tourist visitation was not highlighted on overall assemblages, suggesting that present seasonal tourist load at the MPA does not cause a significantly negative effect on the zoobenthic community studied. Although tourists exhibited trampling activity at the visited location, none of taxa examined showed a significant lower abundance during and strictly after the end of seasonal tourism peak in the visited location, rather than at control locations. However, results obtained with the second experiment suggested that the effects of different experimental trampling intensities on small invertebrates were variable among taxa. The experimental trampling caused immediate declines in the density of tanaids, nematodes, acari, bivalves, gammarids, echinoderms, isopods, and harpacticoids. For some of these taxa a recovery in abundance was observed within one month. This kind of data may offer important information to estimate the number of visitors compatible with the sensitivity of zoobenthic assemblages, and may substantially contribute to appropriate MPA management.
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