Baseline Monitoring of Ecosystem and Socioeconomic Indicators for MPAs along the North Central Coast of California—Sandy Beaches and Adjacent Surf Zones

Start/End: March, 2010 to December, 2013

Researchers will collect a comprehensive baseline description of sandy beach biodiversity along the North Central Coast. To accomplish this, six marine protected areas (Saunders Reef, Salt Point and Duxbury State Marine Conservation Areas, and Bodega Head and Montara Marine Reserves) and six reference sites will be surveyed for abundances of shorebirds and macrophyte wrack seven times annually for the first two years of the project. Larger invertebrates will be surveyed, though less frequently. Recreational fishers (using standardized gear and catch-and-release) will gather information on the abundance, diversity and size structure of surf-zone fishes. A pilot citizen-science project will also be launched in the hopes of establishing long-term monitoring of target invertebrate species, shorebirds and beach wrack. In addition, the project has a socioeconomic component in which scientists will document common recreational activities (i.e., surfing, dog walking and beach fishing) and their effects on beach plants and animals. As scientists involved in this project have documented, sandy beaches provide vital foraging grounds for shorebirds and are an important source of small invertebrates for several species of surf-zone fishes.

Co-principal Investigators