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Effective marine conservation planning 8

Room: Salon F     Wednesday, August 3, 2016; 11:00 - 13:00

NB: Unless specified otherwise, presentation time slots are 15 minutes, and speed presentation times slots are 5 minutes. An asterisk * indicates the presenting author.

1.   11:00  Assessing marine habitat maps sensitivity to variable selection and data quality. Lecours, V *, Department of Geography, Memorial University, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada; Devillers, R Department of Geography, Memorial University, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada; Brown, CJ Nova Scotia Community College, Nova Scotia, Canada; Lucieer, VL Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Australia; Edinger, EN Department of Geography and Department of Biology, Memorial University, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada;

Abstract: Conservation planning and management typically require accurate and spatially explicit data at scales that are relevant for the conservation objectives. While marine habitat mapping is increasingly used to inform conservation efforts, this field is still nascent and its methods are rapidly evolving. Exploring the methods and theories that have proved effective in terrestrial conservation and GIScience and how they can be integrated in marine habitat mapping efforts could help improve the maps used to support conservation efforts. Using multibeam echosounder and ground-truthing data from German Bank, Nova Scotia (Canada), we assessed (1) the influence of covariation in terrain attributes (e.g. slope, rugosity, aspect) derived from bathymetry and (2) the influence of errors in bathymetric data at different scales on both habitat maps and species distribution models (SDM). Results indicate that covariation can lower habitat maps accuracy, lower the performance of SDMs, and produce up to 35% of difference in maps. The presence of errors in the bathymetry affects terrain attributes, and influences habitat map accuracy (up to 12%), SDM performance, and the spatial distribution of habitat types and modeled species distribution probability. We recommend improving the integration of spatial concepts like scale and data quality into the workflow of making marine habitat maps. This could result in products with a higher degree of confidence to inform conservation decisions.

2.   11:15  Continental-scale models of pelagic fish hotspots: Using geomorphometry as a conservation planning tool for mobile predators in Western Australia. Bouchet, PJ *, University of Western Australia; Meeuwig, JJ Centre for Marine Futures, University of Western Australia; Huang, Z Geoscience Australia; Letessier, TB Zoological Society of London; Nichol, SL Geoscience Australia; Caley, MJ Australian Institute of Marine Science; Watson, RA Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania;

Abstract: Although marine protected areas (MPAs) have become pivotal items in the modern conservation planning toolbox, their design and implementation in pelagic environments has been hampered by a limited understanding of wildlife dynamics on macro-ecological scales. Based on ten years of commercial fishing records from the Sea Around Us Project, we develop catch models for an assemblage of large-bodied open-water predators (e.g. tunas, marlins, mackerels) and test whether topography and prominent seabed features such as submarine canyons are useful physical proxies of their relative abundance patterns. We identify three regional species hotspots off the coast of Western Australia and demonstrate that they show minimal overlap with the network of Commonwealth Marine Reserves currently in place around the country. Our analysis reveals that geomorphometrics are potentially important predictors of pelagic fish distributions and highlights the relevance of harnessing static topography as a blueprint for ocean zoning and spatial management in an otherwise poorly representative framework of offshore protection.

3.   11:30  Understanding stewardship and its role at the interface between small-scale fisheries and conservation. Whitty, T.S. *, Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Scripps Institution of Oceanography;

Abstract: Stewardship offers a valuable lens for investigating how communities engage, as active leaders or partners, in conservation. It includes an underlying ethic, or the notion of responsibility for managing resources, and the manifestation of that ethic, or the actions that fulfill that responsibility. For the Small-scale Fisheries and Stewardship research cluster with Too Big To Ignore, we developed a working typology of stewardship to evaluate how small-scale fishing communities interact with conservation, focusing on: (1) the local definition of "stewardship," if such a notion exists; (2) the source of that notion, e.g. whether it is rooted in traditional management or has been fostered by conservation initiatives; (3) the actions by which stewardship is realized, and the opportunities for and obstacles to those actions in the social and governance contexts; (4) ecological and social outcomes, if known, of those actions. To hone this typology, I applied it to several field studies on the interface between small-scale fisheries and conservation, including Mexico, the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia. Additional case studies were drawn from the literature and interviews with researchers and conservation groups globally. The goal is to apply this typology to enhance our understanding of how to better promote the development of the stewardship ethic, and how to properly recognize and support the role of stewardship in small-scale fisheries management and conservation.

4.   11:45  Combining community engagement and tracking technology to characterise fishers' behaviours to facilitate more effective marine spatial planning efforts. Metcalfe, K. , Centre for Ecology and Conservation, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, UK; Collins, T. Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), U.S.A.; Tilley, D. Centre for Ecology and Conservation, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, UK; Turner, R.A. Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, UK; VanLeeuwe, H. Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Congo Program, Republic of Congo; Witt, M.J. *Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, UK; Godley, B.J. Centre for Ecology and Conservation, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, UK;

Abstract: Small-scale fisheries contribute to the livelihoods and well-being of 10% of the world's population and so the emergence of marine spatial planning has led to greater demand for social-ecological knowledge on how resource-users interact with the marine environment. However, disparities in data availability, and familiarity with social science research methods among practitioners often prevents social-ecological knowledge on small-scale fisheries being incorporated into planning processes, particularly in developing countries. Using a national-scale study in the Republic of Congo, we show how linking well established techniques from the social sciences (i.e. community engagement and participatory mapping) with technologies traditionally employed in the natural sciences (i.e. GPS tracking) can bridge this gap to provide fine-scale information on: (1) the behavioural dynamics of the fleets and fishers that operate within this sector; and (2) the location, size and attributes of important fishing grounds upon which communities are dependent to maintain their livelihoods. This multi-disciplinary approach should be considered within a global context where uncertainty over fishers' behaviours can lead to marine spatial plans that can potentially compromise conservation, resource and sustainability goals.

5.   12:00  To cull or not to cull an invasive predator? It depends . . . . Smith, NS *, Simon Fraser University; Green, SJ Oregon State University; Akins, JL Reef Environmental Education Foundation; Miller, S Cape Eleuthera Institute; Côté, IM Simon Fraser University;

Abstract: Culling is commonly used in conservation as a means to eradicate invasive species or to reduce their populations to levels that minimize ecological impacts. Culling can be an effective tool but it is labor-intensive, costly and its effects are sometimes unpredictable. In the Caribbean, culling is widely used to control invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish, Pterois volitans and P. miles, predators that have substantially reduced native prey fish abundances on coral reefs. However, the effectiveness of these control efforts is unclear. We assessed the effectiveness of lionfish culling at varying frequencies in a 21-month-long field experiment on natural reefs in the Bahamas. Surprisingly, culling every 6 months was more effective at reducing lionfish densities than culling every 3 months, resulting in average declines in lionfish densities of 75% and 63%, respectively, relative to unculled reefs. However, these reductions in lionfish densities did not result in gains in native prey fish biomass or species richness, which remained indistinguishable from unculled reefs. Furthermore, lionfish densities were higher on culled than on unculled reefs while native prey fish biomass and diversity were lower on culled than on unculled reefs following Hurricane Irene, and this result persisted for several months following the disturbance. Density-dependent lionfish movement and natural disturbances appear to play a role in limiting the effectiveness of lionfish culling at local scales.

6.   12:15  A moving target: marine protected area conservation of reef sharks . Heupel, MR *, Australian Institute of Marine Science; Espinoza, M Universidad de Costa Rica; Simpfendorfer, CA James Cook University;

Abstract: The potential of marine protected areas (MPAs) to conserve sharks has been a topic of discussion and exploration for several years. Although it has been purported that closed areas will protect shark species, there is limited data to support this claim and inform spatial management actions. Here we discuss the results of four years of movement data from three species of shark in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Marine Park. Acoustic receivers were deployed at 17 reefs in the central GBR with reefs open and closed to fishing represented. Residency of sharks at individual reefs varied by species. The most resident species, the grey reef shark, was detected 80% of the time, while the more pelagic silvertip shark was only detected 50% of the time and larger species such as bull sharks were detected as little as 20% of the time. The number of reefs visited also varied by species and in some cases by sex indicating varying levels of benefit from MPA zones. These data have been useful in assisting the GBR Marine Park Authority to define the efficacy of the multi-use spatial planning design and indicate that reef level protection may not be adequate to protect mobile species. Differences in movement patterns among species mean a single approach may not be adequate and that conservation and management may need to be species specific. Understanding spatial ecology of predators is key to effective reef-based conservation planning.

7.   12:30  Q&A Session.

8.   12:45  Q&A Session.

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