The ecological importance of marine algae is widely known but in shallow coastal areas the composition and structure of algal communities may be affected by different human activities. Recovery from different trampling disturbances of two competing morphological groups (i.e. macroalgae and algal turfs) and effects of macroalgal canopy removal on the dominant associated fauna were examined using controlled trampling experiments. Six months after trampling disturbance was removed, the two morphological groups closely resembled control (untrampled) conditions, both in terms of cover and canopy (%). In particular, macroalgal recovery seemed to be very rapid: the higher the impact on the system the more rapid the recovery rate. In the short-term, the removal of macroalgal fronds (i.e. canopy) caused evident changes in invertebrate and crypto-benthic fish densities although these indirect effects were species- specific. Erect macroalgae are very sensitive to disturbance and even relatively low intensities of human use may be non-sustainable for this shallow assemblage. The present findings suggest some interesting options for the management of Mediterranean rocky shallow areas. This is crucial for coastal areas that are intended to be maintained in natural condition for conservation purposes.
MILAZZO, M., BADALAMENTI, F., RIGGIO, S., CHEMELLO, R. (2004). Patterns of algal recovery and small-scale effects of canopy removal as a result of human trampling on a Mediterranean rocky shallow community. BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION, 117(2), 191-202 [10.1016/S0006-3207(03)00292-1].