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Using the biogeographical distribution and diversity of seaweed species to test the efficacy of marine protected areas in the warm-temperate Agulhas Marine Province, South Africa

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Abstract:

Abstract Aim 

To study the siting of marine protected areas (MPAs) with respect to the biogeographical distribution of seaweeds within the Agulhas Marine Province and to assess the effectiveness of current MPAs in including (conserving) seaweeds of the South African south coast. Location 

South Africa – the south coast between Cape Agulhas and the Eastern Cape/Kwazulu-Natal border, and eight MPAs within that area. Methods 

We used interpolated seaweed distribution records from all available sources, in 50-km coastal sections. Cluster analysis (Jaccard Average Linkage) of species presence/absence data provided measures of similarity between coastal sections and between MPAs. Complementarity analyses identified the sequence of ‘importance’ of sections/MPAs for conserving seaweed species. Results 

Species presence/absence data indicated two main groups, representing western (cooler water) and eastern (warmer water) biogeographical divisions, as well as several biogeographical subdivisions within each of these groups. Complementarity analysis yielded a sequence of ‘importance’ of coastal sections (in terms of the highest number of species included) that began with a section just east of central in the Agulhas Marine Province, around Port Alfred, where there is no MPA. This was followed by the easternmost section (warmest water), which contains the Pondoland MPA, and then by the westernmost (coolest water) section, containing the De Hoop MPA. Similar analysis of the actual species collected in MPAs showed a generally similar pattern. Main conclusions 

Seven current MPAs and one proposed coastal MPA in the Agulhas Marine Province appear to be well distributed and well sited to include (conserve) the full biogeographical range of seaweeds. However, if further MPAs are to be considered, the Port Alfred area is recommended for improved conservation. This study did not examine estuaries, which may require improved conservation efforts. Seaweed distribution data, which are often relatively complete, offer a good tool for planning the siting of coastal MPAs.

Keywords: Biogeography; marine conservation; marine protected areas; seaweed species distributions

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1472-4642.2009.00614.x

Affiliations: 1: Botany Department, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa 2: National Herbarium of the Netherlands, Leiden University Branch, PO Box 9514, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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