Assemblage composition in key habitats of Marine Protected Areas: Seasearch data report to Natural England.

Published online
13 Jan 2024
Published by
Natural England
Content type

Jackson, A. C.
Contact email(s)

Publication language
UK & England


This report discusses the potential role of citizen science data, specifically from the Seasearch programme, in supporting formal condition assessment of marine protected areas (MPAs) in England. The report compares Seasearch data with data from Natural England for Plymouth Sound and Estuaries SAC, and finds that Seasearch provided more data, found more taxa, and identified differing assemblages in each habitat than Natural England's condition monitoring. The report also assesses changes in benthic assemblages between 2009-13 and 2014-19 for seven English MPAs, and finds that while most showed little change in diversity, there were differences in composition. A scoring system was developed to allocate confidence ratings to comparisons of diversity indices between the 2 time periods. The report suggests that combining methods and analyses from Seasearch and Natural England may provide the most complete and informative picture, and that records collected by trained Seasearch volunteers could help fill gaps in data for conservation agencies.

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