Member Highlight: Study Confirms And Ranks Nursery Value Of Coastal Habitats

2019-04-10T15:55:14+00:00 April 8, 2019|
(Credit: Maxwell Ridgeway/Unsplash)

(Credit: Maxwell Ridgeway/Unsplash)

Findings will help resource managers with difficult conservation decisions

(From Virginia Institute of Marine Science/ By David Malmquist) — A comprehensive analysis of more than 11,000 previous coastal-habitat measurements suggests that mangroves and seagrasses provide the greatest value as “nurseries” for young fishes and invertebrates, providing key guidance for managers of threatened marine resources.

Published today in the prestigious Conservation Letters, the analysis began as a class project at William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

Lead author Jonathan Lefcheck, now the coordinating scientist with the Smithsonian’s Tennenbaum Marine Observatories Network, says “Our results confirm the nursery function of a range of structured habitats, which supports their conservation, restoration, and management at a time when our coastal environments are increasingly impacted by human activities.”

In addition to mangroves and seagrasses, “structured” marine habitats include marshes, coral and oyster reefs, and patches of rock or rubble. Scientists have long considered these habitats better nursery grounds than flat stretches of seafloor sand or mud because of their many elevated nooks and crannies; the team’s analysis was designed to test this idea and determine the relative value of different structured habitats for the juvenile of marine species.

“Given how often the word ‘nursery’ is used to justify marine conservation and management, we thought it was critical to see what the huge body of evidence out there had to say,” says Lefcheck. “The good news is we found that…

Read the full article here: