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Habitat mapping of Cabo Girão Marine Park (Madeira island): a tool for conservation and management

Abstract

At the time Cabo Girão natural marine park was proposed (2016) and later when it was established, (2017), its effective conservation and marine spatial planning goals were hampered by the scarce knowledge on the sea floor habitats and biotic patterns inside the area. In the present work, a combination of different datasets and underwater surveys was used to produce the first habitat map of the Natural Marine Park of Cabo Girão, which is also the first habitat map for Madeira island. Five major habitats were identified, including two previously unknown for Madeira — Avrainvillea canariensis meadows and maërl beds. 132 marine taxa (macroflora, macrofauna and fishes) were identified, including 18 commercially important species and three vulnerable fish species. The results show that the methods used are useful to produce reliable information with limited resources. The information obtained is a tool for conservation and marine spatial planning, which allows for improved policy-making and better management. This study provides a baseline for the benthic habitats of this MPA against which future marine biodiversity changes can be recognised.

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Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank Instituto das Florestas e Conservação da Natureza (IFCN IP-RAM) for the logistic support to carry out surveys inside NMPCG, specially to Carlos Freitas and the park rangers for assistance during diving operations and to Paulo Oliveira for enabling the support of IFCN. Thanks to our colleagues at Estação de Biologia Marinha do Funchal and a special thanks to M. Biscoito for the revision and suggestions made to the manuscript. We gratefully thank Direção Regional do Ordenamento do Território e Ambiente for providing the IH data and also to A.M. Friedlander and colleagues, who kindly provided the data they have collected inside our study area in order to produce a more comprehensive inventory of marine biodiversity.

Claúdia Ribeiro and Pedro Neves were financially supported by the Oceanic Observatory of Madeira Project (M1420-01-0145-FEDER-000001 — Observatório Oceânico da Madeira−OOM). Additional funding was provided from National Funds through FCT — Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, under the project UIDB/Multi/04326/2020.

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Ribeiro, C., Neves, P. Habitat mapping of Cabo Girão Marine Park (Madeira island): a tool for conservation and management. J Coast Conserv 24, 22 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11852-019-00724-9

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Keywords

  • Habitat mapping
  • MPA
  • Madeira
  • Conservation
  • Marine spatial planning
  • Management