NatureScot Commissioned Report 943: 2015 site condition monitoring of marine sedimentary and reef habitats in Loch Laxford SAC
The Loch Laxford SAC was established to afford protection for the marine features 'large shallow inlets and bays' and 'reefs'. The aim of the current 2015 study was to carry out site condition monitoring (SCM) of the designated features of the SAC, in order form a judgement on their current condition. The 2015 SCM work largely took the form of a drop-down video survey, together with more detailed surveying along relocatable transects at locations of reef habitats, mixed reef and sediment habitats and through maerl beds.
At the drop-down video and relocatable transect sites examined in both the 2009 baseline and current surveys all but five biotopes found in 2009 were also recorded in 2015. Recorded absences were probably due to methodological differences between surveys or poor video quality, except at one site where natural temporal variability in kelp dominance is considered to have caused the biotope change.
All recorded temporal changes in species composition identified along the mixed reef and sediment transects were considered to be consistent with natural temporal fluctuation or to have arisen through methodological differences between surveys.
Although wider monitoring coverage of the habitats of the SAC is recommended for future condition assessment, based on the available evidence it is recommended that the inlets and bays and the reefs features should be assigned to the condition category "Favourable Maintained".
Publication 2017 - NatureScot Commissioned Report 943 - 2015 Site Condition monitoring of marine sedimentary and reef habitats in Loch Laxford SAC
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