Two quantitative criteria aimed at assessing the nursery role of costal habitats for fishes
were tested in the context of the Torre Guaceto MPA (where habitat extent and juvenile fish settlement were assessed): 1) the per-area-unit contribute and 2) the overall number of juveniles provided. This study allowed evaluating advantages and caveats of the two criteria when used for prioritizing habitat types in relation to specific conservation/management goals.
The role of coastal habitats as nurseries for juvenile fish is extremely important in management considerations for identifying critical habitats for conservation and restoration and for maintenance and/or recovery of local fish populations (Lipcius et al., 2008). Management of nursery habitats, from these perspectives, is critical for biodiversity conservation and fishery management (Beck et al., 2001; Sala et al., 2002). The nursery role of coastal habitats, however, has been often addressed to single species and poorly investigated from a quantitative viewpoint. We tested here the multispecies nursery role of Mediterranean coastal habitats using two quantitative criteria taken from the literature (Beck et al., 2001; Dahlgren et al., 2006). Such aspects could be important to improve management of coastal areas and to prioritize inclusion of specific habitats into marine protected areas (hereafter MPAs).