Developing a scuba trail vulnerability index (STVI): a case study from a Mediterranean MPA

Marco Milazzo, Renato Chemello, Antonio Di Franco, Agnese Marchini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)


Scuba diving is now one of the major form of commercial use of marine protected areas (MPAs) around the world and the control of its potential impacts on the marine environment represents a fundamental key to manage this recreational activity in highly dived areas. A potential tool to tackle such issues has been thought to be the definition of a value of recreational carrying capacity of an area, but this approach has been rarely considered management-effective. Therefore, the first step for effectively managingscuba-diving should be ‘bottom-up’: characterizing the benthic communities potentially affected by diving and evaluating their vulnerability. Aim of this paper is to propose a tool to define an index of vulnerability for dive trails (STVI: scuba trail vulnerability index).This has taken into consideration both physical and biological features of each trail. All the considered features are represented by non-quantitative variables, because either they are purely qualitative or their quantitative measurement is impractical. The management of such qualitative information and its translation into a formal methodology was performed by means of fuzzy logic, which has been repeatedly proposed as a powerful technique to develop indices of environmental quality. The approach adopted in this study provided auseful tool for the preliminary assessment of the potential vulnerability of benthic assemblages to scuba-diving and may represent an alternative method to the assessment ofcarrying capacity. The application of this index will enable management strategies forpotentially reducing the degradation of benthic organisms/assemblages, and allowing asustainable use of MPAs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1201-1217
Number of pages17
JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
Publication statusPublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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