MEPS 327:107-117 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/meps327107

Recruitment failure and shifts in community structure following mass mortality limit recovery prospects of black abalone

C. Melissa Miner1,*, Jessica M. Altstatt2, Peter T. Raimondi3, Todd E. Minchinton3,4

1Institute of Marine Science, University of California, Center for Ocean Health, Long Marine Laboratory, 100 Shaffer Road, Santa Cruz, California 95060–5730, USA
2Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, 714 Bond Street, Santa Barbara, California 93103, USA
3Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Center for Ocean Health, Long Marine Lab, 100 Shaffer Road, Santa Cruz, California 95060, USA
4Present address: Institute for Conservation Biology and School of Biological Sciences, University of Wollongong, New South Wales 2522, Australia

ABSTRACT: Mass mortalities of species can fundamentally alter the structure of natural communities, which can in turn negatively impact species’ recovery. Beginning in 1994, some of the largest remaining populations of black abalone Haliotis cracherodii on the mainland coast of California, experienced mass mortalities due to the fatal disease called ‘withering syndrome’, which led to its listing as a species of concern by the USA National Marine Fisheries Service. We have been monitoring black abalone populations along the coast of southern and central California since 1992, and detection of withering syndrome at our southernmost site prompted us to inves