PISCO at UCSC spearheaded monitoring studies of kelp forest ecosystems in the recently established marine protected areas (MPAs) in central California by the Marne Life Protection Act (MLPA). In 2007, the PISCO kelp forest monitoring program at UCSC was required to more than double the size and extent of its monitoring program to meet the required replication of 4 locations inside and 4 locations outside of each MPA extending from Point Conception to Monterey Bay. Fish community surveys were successfully completed at 86 locations and benthic community surveys (invertebrates and algae) were conducted at 94 locations.
PISCO Subtidal survey methods have been used in California for the past decade to capture a large number of ecologically and economically important species throughout the entire area of a kelp forest. In addition, reef attributes (depth, substratum type, relief) that may explain spatial patterns of variation among samples are also characterized.
Fish Surveys In each of the 14 coastal MPAs within the CCSR sampled using SCUBA, 4 sites inside and 4 sites outside of the MPA were selected using a random stratified approach. At each of these sites divers collected data on the size and abundance of all conspicuous fish species found at 4 depth zones (5, 10, 15, and 20 m deep). At each depth zone, pairs of divers surveyed 3 transects (30 m long by 2 m wide by 2 m tall) at three levels within the water column (benthic, mid-water and canopy), totaling 36 transects per site.
Divers collected data on the size and abundance of canopy forming kelp and the abundance of understory algae and invertebrates in separate surveys. These benthic community data were collected from 2 transects (30 m long by 2 m wide) at three depths (5, 12.5, and 20 m deep), totaling 6 transects per site.
PISCO PI’s are currently engaged with the Marine Protected Areas Monitoring Enterprise, to develop and deliver monitoring data essential for ensuring the long-term adaptive management of the new statewide system of marine protected areas (MPAs) designated through the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA).