Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in southeastern Alaska includes extensive coastlines representing a major proportion of all coastlines held by the National Park Service. The marine plants and invertebrates that occupy intertidal shores form highly productive communities that are ecologically important to a number of vertebrate and invertebrate consumers and that are vulnerable to human disturbances. To better understand these communities and their sensitivity, it is important to obtain information on species abundances over space and time. During field studies from 1997 to 2001, I investigated probability-based rocky intertidal monitoring designs that allow inference of results to similar habitat within the bay and that reduce bias. Aerial surveys of a subset of intertidal habitat indicated that the original target habitat of bedrock-dominated sites with slope less than or equal to 30 degrees was rare. This finding illustrated the value of probability-based surveys and led to a shift in the target habitat type to more mixed rocky habitat with steeper slopes. Subsequently, I investigated different sampling methods and strategies for their relative power to detect changes in the abundances of the predominant sessile intertidal taxa: barnacles -Balanomorpha, the mussel Mytilus trossulus and the rockweed Fucus distichus subsp. evanescens. I found that lower-intensity sampling of 25 randomly selected sites (= coarse-grained sampling) provided a greater ability to detect changes in the abundances of these taxa than did more intensive sampling of 6 sites (= fine-grained sampling). Because of its greater power, the coarse-grained sampling scheme was adopted in subsequent years. This report provides detailed analyses of the 4 years of data and evaluates the relative effect of different sampling attributes and management-set parameters on the ability of the sampling to detect changes in the abundances of these taxa. The intent was to provide managers with information to guide design choices for intertidal monitoring. I found that the coarse-grained surveys, as conducted from 1998 to 2001, had power ranging from 0.68 to 1.0 to detect 10 percent annual changes in the abundances of these predominant sessile species. The information gained through intertidal monitoring would be useful in assessing changes due to climate (including ocean acidification), invasive species, trampling effects, and oil spills.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Development of monitoring protocols to detect change in rocky intertidal communities of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve