THE VALUE OF HABITAT DIVERSITY IN MARINE RESERVES: SPINY LOBSTER USE OF THE INTERTIDAL ZONE AT THE SANTA CATALINA ISLAND MARINE PROTECTED AREA
Sean Windell, Corey Garza.
California State University Monterey Bay, Seaside, CA.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are a relatively new approach to managing exploited marine species. However, in order for MPAs to be effective, a diversity of habitats that incorporate all necessary ecosystem services for targeted species must be included in their design. The Southern California spiny lobster (Panulirus interruptus) is an exploited species for which MPAs have been designed. Previous work suggests this species forages within the intertidal zone at high tide; however, the relative importance of this habitat in the early design of MPAs was not considered. As part of a study to test the efficacy of a longstanding MPA on Catalina Island, California, snorkel and scuba surveys recording abundance, size, and gender were conducted along transects within the MPA and outside at high tide. Intertidal habitat composition was also assessed at low tide using GIS to create photographic transects based off of spatial reference points which were then classified manually. It was hypothesized that spiny lobster demographics were greater in the MPA. It was also hypothesized that demographic patterns were higher in the intertidal zone relative to the subtidal at high tide. Results suggest current demographic parameters are higher outside of the reserve due to more suitable intertidal habitats for foraging. These results provide insight on how MPAs should require ecosystem-based management that incorporates fine-scale habitat types utilized throughout the lifetime of managed species.