Rockfish Recruitment and Ecosystem Assessment Survey
Characterization of the temperate subtidal reef of Big Creek Marine Reserve
The purpose of this project is to create a spatially explicit depiction of the subtidal habitat at the Big Creek Marine Reserve. Temperate subtidal reefs are one of the most productive and species rich ecosystems, supporting a great variety of ecosystem services (e.g. CO2 sequestration, wave protection, nursery habitats, etc). Research of these systems in Big Sur have been limited due to difficulties with accessibility, remoteness of the field site, and inability to fill SCUBA cylinders. By ameliorating these hurdles, the on-site facilities at the UCSC Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve are ideal for supporting student-driven ecosystem studies along the remote Big Sur coastline.
To date, detailed surveys have not yet been conducted for the nearshore benthos at this UC reserve due to previously mentioned limitations. Therefore, we are collecting the following information on the permanent cable: 1) depth contour (rugosity), 2) relative wave action, 3) substrate, 4) mobile and sessile invertebrate distributions, 5) fish distributions, and 6) algal distributions in order to characterize this ecosystem. This data set will be available to scientists and students working on future studies in the Big Creek Marine Reserve. The data will be presented in a layered map, which will display species abundance, distributions, and habitat associations. Data collected for this study will provide further support for the reserve system and enhance training, education, and research opportunities provided through the University of California, Santa Cruz.