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Invertebrate community responses to recreational clam digging
Griffiths, J.; Dethier, M.N.; Newsom, A.; Byers, J.E.; Meyer, J.J.; Oyarzun, F.; Lenihan, H. (2006). Invertebrate community responses to recreational clam digging. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 149(6): 1489-1497.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162; e-ISSN 1432-1793, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Griffiths, J.
  • Dethier, M.N.
  • Newsom, A.
  • Byers, J.E.
  • Meyer, J.J.
  • Oyarzun, F.
  • Lenihan, H.

    Marine reserves can help in maintaining biodiversity and potentially be useful as a fishery management tool by removing human-mediated impacts. Intertidal, soft-sediment habitats can often support robust recreational and commercial shellfish harvests, especially for clams; however, there is limited research on the effects of reserves in these habitats. In San Juan County, Washington, several reserves prohibit recreational clam digging. We examined the effects of these reserves on infaunal community composition through comparison with non-reserve beaches during a 6-week period. Clam abundance, overall species richness and total polychaete family richness were greater on reserve beaches compared to non-reserve beaches. Additionally, an experiment within a reserve demonstrated negative impacts of digging on non-target infauna. These effects probably resulted from local disruption and disturbance of the sediment habitat and not from increased post-digging predation, which was controlled. Intertidal reserves could play an important role in sustaining local and potentially regional biodiversity.

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