University of California Davis - Bodega Marine Reserve

Restoration Project

University of California Davis - Bodega Marine Reserve

Restoration Objective:

The objective of this study was to assess how herbivore density interacts with algae species richness to influence recovery rates of rocky shore communities following severe, small-scale disturbances.

Site Selection Criteria:

The experimental site was located in the mid-high intertidal zone, 1 m above the mean low water mark.

Cause Of Decline:

Due to increased anthropogenic influence in marine ecosystems, environmental disturbances are occurring with greater frequency. Therefore it has become increasingly important to understand the underlying mechanisms that determine the rates of recovery from disturbances. Recovery rates may be influenced by environmental stresses, resource supplies and community characteristics.

Key Reasons For Decline:

Experimental Removal

Scientific Paper

Seaweed richness and herbivory increase rate of community recovery from disturbance

K.M. Aquilino, J.J. Stachowicz
Ecology, Vol. 93.

Site Observations:

Observation Date

1st May 2008 – 1st Sep 2010

Action Summary:

This study tested the effects of herbivory levels and algae richness on the recovery of rocky intertidal communities over a 27 month field experiment. Experimental plots contained either a control group (the naturally occurring algal community), a monoculture of one of the four most common algal species or a polyculture of all four species. These plots then had one of two herbivore treatments assigned (ambient or reduced).

Lessons Learned:

Both herbivory levels and algal species richness can enhance community recovery from short severe disturbances, where palatable species pre-empt growth of late-successional, herbivore resistant species, and recruitment and survival of new colonists is promoted by local species richness. This appears to be the case on intertidal rocky shore seaweed communities and perhaps other communities.

Project Outcomes:

Both herbivore presence and higher algae species richness increased recovery rates in experimental patches. However, the effect of species richness was twice the magnitude of that of herbivory. Increased recovery in herbivory plots was due to removal of early colonist species that otherwise pre-empt late-succession perennial species. Increased recovery in plots with polycultures may have been due to altered species composition, reduced desiccation, or increased propagule recruitment, growth and survival.

Key Reasons For Decline:

Experimental Removal

Area of Restoration (Ha)


Indicator Data:


Ending Value:

Starting Value:

Kelp Cover