University of Sydney - Cape Banks

Restoration Project

University of Sydney - Cape Banks

Restoration Objective:

Researchers conducted an experimental manipulation to test whether the effects of grazing by Centrostephanus rodgersii were linearly related to density.

Site Selection Criteria:

Treatments were replicated in 4 discrete patches of barrens habitat, each between 3 and 4m2 in area. The crevices within these patches were comprised of either undercut platforms or boulders resting on the substratum. Patches used in the experiment were in water 2 to 5m deep, separated by at least 5m and spread over an area of approximately 2000m2.

Cause Of Decline:

The long-spined sea urchin Centrostephanus rodgersii is one of the most important grazers on rocky reefs in NSW. Grazing by C. rodgersii can remove foliose algae from large areas of reefs, while removing urchins leads to an increase in foliose algae and decrease in limpets and crustose coralline algae.

Key Reasons For Decline:


Scientific Paper


N.L. Andrew, A.J. Underwood
Marine Ecology Progress Series, Vol. 99.

Site Observations:

Observation Date

15th Aug 1985 – 1st Mar 1987

Action Summary:

Researchers removed sea urchins (Centrostephanus rodgersii) in sites to create four urchin density treatments; 0% (Removal), 33%, 66% and 100% (Control) of the original population. Treatments were replicated in four discrete barren patches 3-4m2 in diameter. 16 patches were selected, and treatments were randomly assigned. The percentage cover of crustose, filamentous and foliose algae (primary cover only), the density of Sargassum spp., the density of limpets (Cellana trarnoserica, Patelloida alticostata and l. mufria) and the area of the manipulated patches of barrens habitat were measured.

Lessons Learned:

Coralline algae declined with urchin removals while filamentous and foliose algae increased. Effects varied with urchin density, but there was a non-linear relationship between barren size and urchin density. It was suggested the size and shape of urchin home crevices influences barren size.

Project Outcomes:

Partial and total removals of urchins resulted in the loss of crustose coralline algae and an increase in filamentous algae in barren patches. The removal of all large C. rodgersii caused an increase in the percentage cover of foliose algae. After 18 months, foliose algae covered a mean of 49.1 % of the substratum but never covered more than 5% of the substratum in the partial removal and Control treatments. The species composition of foliose algae differed greatly among patches in the Removal treatments. Sargassum spp. also recruited to patches with partial removals of sea urchins and were abundant in both 33% and 66% treatments in March 1986. Densities declined thereafter and Sargassum spp. were either rare or absent from patches at the end of the experiment. No Sargassum spp. were recorded in Control patches.

Key Reasons For Decline:


Area of Restoration (Ha)


Indicator Data:


Ending Value:

Starting Value:

Adult Kelp Density

/ m2
/ m2
Transplant Info: