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Stringell T.B.,Marine and Freshwater Science Group | Stringell T.B.,University of Exeter | Bamber R.N.,ARTOO | Burton M.,Skomer Marine Nature Reserve | And 4 more authors.
Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2013

Performance assessment, impact detection, and the assessment of regulatory compliance are common scientific problems for the management of protected areas. Some habitats in protected areas, however, are rare and/or variable and are not often selected for study by ecologists because they preclude comparison with controls and high community variability makes meaningful change detection difficult. Shallow coastal saline lagoons are habitats that experience comparatively high levels of stress due to high physical variability. Lagoons are rare, declining habitats found in coastal regions throughout Europe (and elsewhere) where they are identified as one of the habitats most in need of protected area management. The infauna in the sediments of 25 lagoons were sampled. Temporal and spatial variation in three of these [protected] lagoons was investigated further over 5 years. In a multivariate analysis of community structure similarities were found between some lagoons, but in other cases communities were unique or specific to only two sites. The protected lagoons with these unique/specific communities showed significant temporal and spatial variation, yet none of the changes observed were attributed to human impacts and were interpreted as inherent variability. Multivariate control charts can operate without experimental controls and were used to assess community changes within the context of 'normal' lagoon variability. The aim of control chart analysis is to characterize background variability in a parameter and identify when a new observation deviates more than expected. In only 1 year was variability more than expected and corresponded with the coldest December in over 100 years. Multivariate control charts are likely to have wide application in the management of protected areas and other natural systems where variability and/or rarity preclude conventional analytical and experimental approaches but where assessments of condition, impact or regulatory compliance are nonetheless required. © 2013 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution. Source

Somerfield P.J.,Plymouth Marine Laboratory | Burton M.,Skomer Marine Nature Reserve | Sanderson W.G.,Heriot - Watt University
Marine Environmental Research | Year: 2014

Sublittoral macrobenthic communities in the Skomer Marine Nature Reserve (SMNR), Pembrokeshire, Wales, were sampled at 10 stations in 1993, 1996, 1998, 2003, 2007 and 2009 using a Day grab and a 0.5mm mesh. The time series is analysed using Similarities Profiles (SIMPROF) tests and associated methods. Q-mode analysis using clustering with Type 1 SIMPROF addresses multivariate structure among samples, showing that there is clear structure associated with differences among years. Inverse (r-mode) analysis using Type 2 SIMPROF decisively rejects a hypothesis that species are not associated with each other. Clustering of the variables (species) with Type 3 SIMPROF identifies groups of species which covary coherently through the time-series. The time-series is characterised by a dramatic decline in abundances and diversity between the 1993 and 1996 surveys. By 1998 there had been a shift in community composition from the 1993 situation, with different species dominating. Communities had recovered in terms of abundance and species richness, but different species dominated the community. No single factor could be identified which unequivocally explained the dramatic changes observed in the SMNR. Possible causes were the effects of dispersed oil and dispersants from the Sea Empress oil spill in February 1996 and the cessation of dredge-spoil disposal off St Annes Head in 1995, but the most likely cause was severe weather. With many species, and a demonstrable recovery from an impact, communities within the SMNR appear to be diverse and resilient. If attributable to natural storms, the changes observed here indicate that natural variability may be much more important than is generally taken into account in the design of monitoring programmes. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Ronowicz M.,Polish Academy of Sciences | Kuklinski P.,Polish Academy of Sciences | Kuklinski P.,Natural History Museum in London | Lock K.,Skomer Marine Nature Reserve | And 3 more authors.
Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom | Year: 2014

Submerged artificial surface imitates newly available habitat for settlement of marine fauna. It also enables study of the timing of benthic larval settlement. Such knowledge is important if the model of possible recovery after disturbance in protected areas is to be assessed. During this study recruitment of sessile benthic invertebrate fauna at spatial and temporal scales was investigated using artificial panels submerged in the Skomer Marine Nature Reserve (Wales, UK). Panels were exchanged monthly between May 2009 and September 2011 (with the exclusion of winter time). Recruitment was highly variable with regard to time and distribution; abundance and number of recruiting species varied significantly between sites (about 2 km apart from each other), depths (6 and 12 m), position on panels (top or underside) and years without any obvious trends. The highest number of individuals and highest values of species richness were at Bernies Rocks, at the greater depth and on the underside surface of panels. Bryozoans were the dominant taxon on panels in each studied year and month. Most macrofaunal species noted on panels exhibit a colonial life strategy with short-lived, non-feeding larval stage. Although many species settle all year round, levels of settlement usually peak in summer months, showing a seasonal recruitment pattern (Bugula fulva, Spirobranchus triqueter, Chorizopora brongniarti and Escharoides coccinea). Some species had a pronounced settlement peak in spring (e.g. Electra pilosa and Balanus crenatus). Copyright © 2014 Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Source

Berman J.,Victoria University of Wellington | Burton M.,Skomer Marine Nature Reserve | Gibbs R.,Skomer Marine Nature Reserve | Lock K.,Skomer Marine Nature Reserve | And 3 more authors.
Journal for Nature Conservation | Year: 2013

Sponges are a dominant component of benthic assemblages in hard substratum environments across the world, but despite the importance of sponges, they are generally poorly represented in most marine monitoring programmes. There is considerable need to develop effective monitoring tools to monitor changes in sponge assemblages. Morphological monitoring has been proposed as a suitable method to monitor sponges and while morphological monitoring has already taken place at Skomer Marine Reserve (MNR), Wales, here we investigate whether species level and morphological level data sets are correlated with respect to temporal variation. Furthermore, we examine the environmental factors that correlate with the patterns of temporal variability. Both species and morphological data sets revealed significant seasonal changes and spatial variation in sponge assemblages; these data sets were highly correlated and explained by a number of environmental factors. We conclude that morphological monitoring of sponge assemblages may represents a cost-effective method for assessing temporal and spatial variation in sponges, where full species level monitoring is not possible, as patterns identified from morphological data were a suitable surrogate of species-level data. © 2013. Source

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