Drawing lines at the sand: evidence for functional vs. visual reef boundaries in temperate Marine Protected Areas.

  • Published source details Sheehan E.V., Cousens S.L., Stauss C., Royle J. & Attrill M.J. (2013) Drawing lines at the sand: evidence for functional vs. visual reef boundaries in temperate Marine Protected Areas.. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 76, 194-202.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Designate a Marine Protected Area and prohibit all towed (mobile) fishing gear

Action Link
Subtidal Benthic Invertebrate Conservation
  1. Designate a Marine Protected Area and prohibit all towed (mobile) fishing gear

    A before-and-after, site comparison study from 2008–2011 of 12 sites of rocky reefs and pebbly sand seabed in Lyme Bay, English Channel, southwest England, UK (Sheehan et al. 2013) found that three years after closing a marine protected area to all towed gears, community composition and abundance of reef-indicative invertebrate species became different to unprotected fished sites, but their species richness remained similar. Community data were reported as graphical analyses. Reef-indicative invertebrate species richness did not statistically change over time and was similar in closed and fished sites both before closure (closed: 8; fished: 5 species/m2) and three years after (closed: 10; fished: 5 species/m2). However, while before closure their abundance was similar in closed (6 individuals/m2) and fished sites (3 individuals/m2), it increased over time in closed sites and was greater than in fished sites after three years (closed: 16; fished: 1 individuals/m2). In particular, abundances of four key species increased in closed sites over time and became more abundant than in fished sites after three years (significantly for: bryozoans Pentapora fascialis closed 0.11 vs fished 0.01; sea squirts Phallusia mammillata 0.06 vs 0.01 and branching sponges 0.05 vs <0.01; non-significantly for hydroids 55 vs 17 individuals/m2). The 206 km2 protected area was closed to towed fishing gears in 2008. Six weeks after closure (considered the ‘before’ timepoint by the authors) and in 2011, five sites inside and seven sites outside the protected area were surveyed using a video camera (two 200 m video-transects/site). All invertebrates observed on the video present on pebbly sand, but indicative of rocky reef habitat, were identified and counted.

    (Summarised by: Anaëlle Lemasson)

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