Maerl beds inside and outside a 25-year-old no-take area
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AuthorsBarberá, C. (Carmen); Mallol, S. (Sandra); Vergés, A. (Alba); Cabanellas-Reboredo, M. (Miguel); Díaz, D. (David); Goñi, R. (Raquel)
Marine protected areas
Maerl beds, which harbour productive, diverse benthic communities, are threatened by human activities. Although some types of fishing activities can impact maerl beds, their effects are poorly studied due to the lack of appropriate un-fished control sites. In this study, we took advantage of the 25 yr old no-take Columbretes Islands Marine Protected Area (MPA) (NW Mediterranean) as the best available reference for pristine conditions and assessed (1) the conservation status of maerl beds in this MPA and (2) the impacts of fishing in nearby beds that are open to this activity. We compared macroalgal species richness (including both calcifying and non-calcifying species), maerl cover and the live proportion of maerl in 3 contiguous zones with different protection histories: inside the 25 yr old MPA (IN25), inside the adjacent 6 yr old MPA (IN6) and in the unprotected grounds surrounding the MPA where fishing continues (OUT). We also analysed differences between shallow (30 to 49 m) and ...
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