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Long-term trends in invertebrate-habitat relationships under protected and fished conditions


Alexander, TJ and Johnson, CR and Haddon, M and Barrett, NS and Edgar, GJ, Long-term trends in invertebrate-habitat relationships under protected and fished conditions, Marine Biology, 161, (8) pp. 1799-1808. ISSN 0025-3162 (2014) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2014 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

DOI: doi:10.1007/s00227-014-2462-2


Few studies examine the long-term effects of changing predator size and abundance on the habitat associations of resident organisms despite that this knowledge is critical to understand the ecosystem effects of fishing. Marine reserves offer the opportunity to determine ecosystem-level effects of manipulated predator densities, while parallel monitoring of adjacent fished areas allows separating these effects from regional-scale change. Relationships between two measures of benthic habitat structure (reef architecture and topographic complexity) and key invertebrate species were followed over 17 years at fished and protected subtidal rocky reefs associated with two southern Australian marine reserves. Two commercially harvested species, the southern rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii) and blacklip abalone (Haliotis rubra) were initially weakly associated with habitat structure across all fished and protected sites. The strength of association with habitat for both species increased markedly at protected sites 2 years after marine reserve declaration, and then gradually weakened over subsequent years. The increasing size of rock lobster within reserves apparently reduced their dependency on reef shelters as refuges from predation. Rising predation by fish and rock lobster in the reserves corresponded with weakening invertebrate–habitat relationships for H. rubra and sea urchins (Heliocidaris erythrogramma). These results emphasise that animal–habitat relationships are not necessarily stable through time and highlight the value of marine reserves as reference sites. Our work shows that fishery closures to enhance populations of commercially important and keystone species should be in areas with a range of habitat features to accommodate shifting ecological requirements with ontogenesis.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:marine invertebrates, marine biodiversity, marine protected areas, Maria Island
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Alexander, TJ (Dr Timothy Alexander)
UTAS Author:Johnson, CR (Professor Craig Johnson)
UTAS Author:Barrett, NS (Associate Professor Neville Barrett)
UTAS Author:Edgar, GJ (Professor Graham Edgar)
ID Code:93470
Year Published:2014
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (A00001077)
Web of Science® Times Cited:4
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2014-08-05
Last Modified:2017-11-01

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