Marine Environments: Species Interactions in Rocky Intertidal Habitats and Contrasting International Marine Protection Strategies

TitleMarine Environments: Species Interactions in Rocky Intertidal Habitats and Contrasting International Marine Protection Strategies
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsSutton, Ariana
Academic DepartmentEnvironmental Science
Thesis AdvisorMenge, Bruce
DegreeHonors Baccalaureate of Arts in International Studies in Environmental Science
Number of Pages92
Date Published06/2000
UniversityOregon State University
Thesis TypeUndergraduate
Keywordsalgae, conservation, France, intertidal, top-down control

It is currently not well understood how large scale oceanic processes affect rocky I intertidal communities at the local and regional or meso-scale level. In rocky intertidal communities on the central Oregon coast about 80 km apart, differences in herbivore and algal productivity varied on a site-dependent basis. Field experiments employing herbivore manipulation and algal transplants suggested top-down control by herbivores in three of the four sites in the low zone. Sites with known lower cover of algae exhibited a strong grazer control effect. Of the sites with high algal cover, one showed no grazer effect as was predicted. The other, however, exhibited a strong grazer effect. In the mid zone, both sites studied showed a grazer effect even though one was a high algal cover site and one was not. These results suggest that what controls primary productivity at a site varies depending on where that site is located and what oceanographic conditions exist there. Continued research on how rocky intertidal community dynamics and structure are affected by oceanographic conditions is important so that we can better manage these ecosystems and account for local variation. There is international consensus that the near shore marine environment is being degraded by human activities. To combat this degradation, both France and the United States have designed marine conservation strategies which reveal fundamental differences in cultural values and political systems. The Conservatoire Littoral and marine reserves are French strategies whereas the U.S. strategy involves national marine sanctuaries with special use zones. One cultural difference which underlies the varying conservation strategies is the value assigned to nature: "patrimoine naturel" versus "resource use." A second value is that of perspective. The French focus on local initiatives whereas the U.S. takes a nation-wide focus. This is due to differences in population density, age of the nation, and people's attachment to their region. Comparing strategies reveals strengths and weaknesses in both systems and highlights the potential for sharing conservation plans to improve marine protection. Conservation of global marine resources depends on nations sharing knowledge and ideas to alleviate errors and increase successes.