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Assessing the importance of coastal habitats for fisheries, biodiversity and marine reserves: A new approach taking into account “habitat mosaics"

Skilleter, G.A. and Loneragan, N.R. (2003) Assessing the importance of coastal habitats for fisheries, biodiversity and marine reserves: A new approach taking into account “habitat mosaics". In: Aquatic Protected Areas What works best and how do we know? World Congress on Aquatic Protected Areas, 14 - 17 August, Cairns, Australia pp. 240-249.

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Abstract

Effective management of estuarine and coastal fisheries resources requires detailed information on the relationships between the habitats being protected and the fisheries dependent on them. Past research of nekton has focused on comparisons of abundance and species composition between single habitats (e.g. mangroves versus seagrass or vegetated versus unvegetated habitats). These studies have provided valuable insights into the role of coastal habitats for sustaining fisheries and biodiversity but have not considered the importance of adjacent habitats to the overall value of an area. For example, fish are only able to occupy mangrove forests for a restricted amount of any high tide period. The nature of the habitats lower down the shore may be crucial to the overall value of any patch of mangrove for supporting fisheries. We are taking a new approach to assessing the value of estuarine habitats for fisheries and biodiversity that considers the spatial arrangement of different habitats within an area - or the “mosaic” of habitats within the area. The scale of the area for study is defined by the life history and biology of the species of interest. In addition to estimating the abundance, biomass and community structure of nekton (e.g. fish, crustaceans, molluscs), the functioning of mosaics will be studied by estimating growth rates and describing the food webs in different mosaics and the characteristics of the mosaics will be measured. This approach has the potential to be extended to allow much better criteria to be developed for the selection of marine reserves by managers.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Copyright: © ASFB Australia 2003
Notes: In: JP Beumer, A Grant and DC Smith (eds) Aquatic Protected Areas What works best and how do we know? World Congress on Aquatic Protected Areas Cairns, Australia - August 2002. Australian Society for Fish Biology, pp 240-249.
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/12833
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