Pacific Rocky Intertidal Monitoring: Trends and Synthesis home

Long-Term Monitoring Target Species

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Target species (also called key or indicator species) are species or species groups specifically chosen for Long-Term Monitoring Surveys. They dominate particular zones or biotic assemblages in rocky intertidal habitats. 

Below is a list of the species (and or areas) currently targeted by Long-Term Monitoring Surveys. For the criteria used to select target species, click here.

Photo Plots - Biological

Anthopleura (Anemones)

Chthamalus/Balanus (Acorn Barnacles)

Semibalanus (Thatched Barnacle)

Tetraclita (Pink Barnacle)

Pollicipes (Goose Barnacle)

Mytilus (California Mussel)

Fucus (Northern Rockweed)

Hesperophycus (Olive Rockweed)

Pelvetiopsis (Dwarf Rockweed)

Silvetia (Golden Rockweed)

Endocladia (Turfweed)

Mastocarpus (Turkish Washcloth)

Mazzaella (Iridescent Weed)

Neorhodomela (Black Pine)

Red Algal Turf - Photo Plots

Photo Plots- Non-biological



Rock (Above Barnacles)


Egregia (Feather-Boa Kelp)

Saccharina (Sea Cabbage)

Red Algal Turf - Transects

Phyllospadix (Surfgrass)

Zostera (Eelgrass)

Species Counts and Sizes

Pisaster ochraceus (Ochre Star)

Katharina tunicata (Black Katy Chiton)

Species of Concern

The following species are monitored at MARINe sites, where appropriate, but access to data is restricted to help minimize collecting pressure on these vulnerable species. To login and view trend graphs for sensitive species, click here.

Haliotis cracherodii (Black Abalone)

Haliotis rufescens (Red Abalone)

Lottia gigantea (Owl Limpet)

Postelsia (Sea Palm)

Selection Criteria

The criteria for selecting target species include the following:

• Species ecologically important in structuring intertidal communities.

• Species that are competitive dominants or major predators.

• Species that are abundant, conspicuous or large.

• Species whose presence provides numerous microhabitats for other organisms.

• Species that are slow growing and long-lived.

• Species that have interesting distributions along California coasts.

• Species found throughout California shores.

• Species characteristic of discrete intertidal heights.

• Species that are rare, unique, or found only in a particular intertidal habitat.

• Species approaching their biogeographic limits in California.

• Species that have been well studied, with extensive literature available.

• Species of special human interest.

• Species vulnerable and/or sensitive to human impacts, especially from oil spills.

• Species with special legal status.

• Introduced or invasive species.

• Species harvested by sport or commercial activities.

• Practical species for long-term monitoring.

• Readily identifiable species.

• Sessile or sedentary species of reasonable size.

• Non-cryptic species.

• Species located high enough in the intertidal to permit sufficient time to sample. home

See Also