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Population viability and biodiversity : implications for marine protected area site selection Salomon, Anne Katherine

Abstract

Marine protected areas have been identified as an essential tool in marine conservation strategies, however, to date there has been very little scientific basis for their design or location. Areas of high species richness are often emphasized for protection because of the possibility of protecting multiple species simultaneously. This study examined the relationship between intertidal biodiversity and the population viability of an ecologically important intertidal chiton, Katharina tunicata, in Barkley Sound, British Columbia. Katharina's potential reproductive output, the metric used to quantify population viability, and Randomized Species Richness were found to be significantly different between the 10 sites under investigation. Potential reproductive output and both Species Richness and Randomized Species Richness, two indices used to describe biodiversity, were significantly negatively correlated, as a result, areas of high algal and invertebrate species richness encompassed chiton populations with relatively low potential reproductive output. Consequently, viable, self-replenishing, source populations that contribute disproportionate numbers of offspring may not be protected if reserve selection focuses on species richness as a site selection criterion. This thesis identifies and discusses significant deviations from the anticipated ecological outcomes of various marine protected area site selection criteria, design policies, and monitoring strategies stemming from the potential ecological interactions that may take place within a marine reserve.

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