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Monitoring the resilience of a no-take marine reserve to a range extending species using benthic imagery


Perkins, NR and Hosack, GR and Foster, SD and Monk, J and Barrett, NS, Monitoring the resilience of a no-take marine reserve to a range extending species using benthic imagery, PLoS ONE, 15, (8) Article e0237257. ISSN 1932-6203 (2020) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2020 Perkins et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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DOI: doi:10.1371/journal. pone.0237257


Global climate change is driving the redistribution of marine species and thereby potentially restructuring endemic communities. Understanding how localised conservation measures such as protection from additional human pressures can confer resilience to ecosystems is therefore an important area of research. Here, we examine the resilience of a no-take marine reserve (NTR) to the establishment of urchin barrens habitat. The barrens habitat is created through overgrazing of kelp by an invading urchin species that is expanding its range within a hotspot of rapid climate change. In our study region, a multi-year monitoring program provides a unique time-series of benthic imagery collected by an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) within an NTR and nearby reference areas. We use a Bayesian hierarchical spatio-temporal modelling approach to estimate whether the NTR is associated with reduced formation of urchin barrens, and thereby enhances local resilience. Our approach controls for the important environmental covariates of depth and habitat complexity (quantified as rugosity derived from multibeam sonar mapping), as well as spatial and temporal dependence. We find evidence for the NTR conferring resilience with a strong reserve effect that suggests improved resistance to the establishment of barrens. However, we find a concerning and consistent trajectory of increasing barrens cover in both the reference areas and the NTR, with the odds of barrens increasing by approximately 32% per year. Thus, whereas the reserve is demonstrating resilience to the initial establishment of barrens, there is currently no evidence of recovery once barrens are established. We also find that depth and rugosity covariates derived from multibeam mapping provide useful predictors for barrens occurrence. These results have important management implications as they demonstrate: (i) the importance of monitoring programs to inform adaptive management; (ii) that NTRs provide a potential local conservation management tool under climate change impacts, and (iii) that technologies such as AUVs and multibeam mapping can be harnessed to inform regional decision-making. Continuation of the current monitoring program is required to assess whether the NTR can provide long term protection from a phase shift that replaces kelp with urchin barrens.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, Centrostephanus, urchin barren, marine reserve, Tasmania, imagery
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Adaptation to climate change
Objective Field:Ecosystem adaptation to climate change
UTAS Author:Perkins, NR (Dr Nicholas Perkins)
UTAS Author:Monk, J (Dr Jacquomo Monk)
UTAS Author:Barrett, NS (Associate Professor Neville Barrett)
ID Code:140398
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2020-08-13
Last Modified:2021-02-10
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