The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve lies within the boundary of the Dorset and East Devon World Heritage Site on the south coast. This study investigated the influence of visitors on intertidal biodiversity at Kimmeridge Bay, the only accessible part of the reserve. The assemblages present on two rock ledges were compared: Washing Ledge, which is regularly visited and utilized by people, and Yellow Ledge, which is more isolated and visited much less regularly. At each ledge, three habitat types were investigated: open rock, rockpools and the fucoid zone. Multivariate statistical analysis revealed significant differences in assemblages between ledges and among habitat types. The differences observed in the communities of the two ledges can be explained to some extent by natural ecological processes, but human impacts were also detected. The most obvious contrast associated with trampling was a reduction in the larger, branching species of algae and an increase in ephemeral and crustose species in the more heavily utilized areas.
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