Harnessing the economic potential of the oceans is key to combating poverty, enhancing food security, and strengthening economies. But the concomitant risk of intensified resource extraction to migratory species is worrying given that these species contribute to important ecological processes, often underpin alternatively livelihoods, and many are already threatened. We thus sought to quantify the potential conflict between key economic activities (five fisheries and hydrocarbon exploitation) and sea turtle migration corridors in a region with rapid economic development: Southern and East Africa. From 20 loggerhead and 14 leatherback tracks, we used movement-based kernel density estimation to identify three migration corridors for each of the two species. We overlaid these corridors on maps of the distribution and intensity of economic activities, quantified the extent of overlap and threat posed by each activity on each species, and compared the effects. These results were compared to annual bycatch rates in the respective fisheries. Both species’ corridors overlap most with longlining, but the effect is worse for leatherbacks: bycatch rates are substantial (ca. 1500 per annum) relative to the regional population size (<100 females nesting per annum), likely slowing the population growth rate. Artisanal fisheries are of greater concern for loggerheads, but the population appears to be withstanding the high bycatch rates because it is increasing exponentially. The hydrocarbon industry currently has a moderately low impact, but exploitation in key areas (e.g., Southern Mozambique) has the potential to undermine more than 50 years of conservation efforts, affecting >80% of the loggerhead population, 33% of the (critically endangered) leatherback population, and their nesting beaches. We support establishing blue economies, but oceans need to be carefully zoned and responsibly managed in both space and time to achieve economic (resource extraction), ecological (conservation, maintain processes) and social (maintain alternative livelihood opportunities, combat poverty) objectives.
Salps are marine invertebrates comprising multiple jet-propelled swimming units during a colonial life-cycle stage. Using theory, we show that asynchronous swimming with multiple pulsed jets yields substantial hydrodynamic benefit due to the production of steady swimming velocities, which limit drag. Laboratory comparisons of swimming kinematics of aggregate salps (Salpa fusiformis and Weelia cylindrica) using high-speed video supported that asynchronous swimming by aggregates results in a smoother velocity profile and showed that this smoother velocity profile is the result of uncoordinated, asynchronous swimming by individual zooids. In situ flow visualizations of W. cylindrica swimming wakes revealed that another consequence of asynchronous swimming is that fluid interactions between jet wakes are minimized. Although the advantages of multi-jet propulsion have been mentioned elsewhere, this is the first time that the theory has been quantified and the role of asynchronous swimming verified using experimental data from the laboratory and the field.
This article examines the impact of marine ecosystem quality on inbound coastal tourism in the Baltic, North Sea, and Mediterranean countries. Using marine protected areas (MPAs) and the fraction of overexploited species as a proxy for marine ecosystem quality, we apply an autoregressive distributed lag model in a destination–origin panel setup. The empirical findings suggest that the presence of MPAs and the fraction of overexploited species have a considerable impact on inbound coastal tourism. Moreover, the impact of the overexploitation index on tourism is persistent and its short-term (current) impact constitutes 65% of the long-term impact. The results underscore the importance of marine ecosystem quality for inbound coastal tourism and its overall impact that may exceed the impact of tourists’ income. We also find that government performance is crucial for inbound tourism.
Tropical countries have island and continental ecosystems of great value for tourism, fisheries and also for their conservation development potential. These natural habitats, including among other beaches, seagrass beds, mangrove forests and coral reefs can dissipate wave energy acting as barriers against high waves and high water levels to eventually protect coastal infrastructure and communities. However, in recent decades, they have been subject to strong anthropic pressure and extreme events due to natural causes as well as to climate change. Therefore, the global trend is to understand the eco-systemic services that these natural environments can provide and their economic value in terms of reducing damages caused by coastal erosion and flooding. A methodological framework is presented in order to quantify the impact of natural ecosystems in coastal protection and their environmental assessment based on numerical models available in the literature. In addition to the methodology, a study of a typical Caribbean fringing coral reef and its response to different sea level rise and extreme events scenarios was conducted. The contribution of these efforts from a technological and scientific point of view, lies in the integration of different disciplines required to combine the physical properties of hydrodynamic studies with biological factors as an input to provide practical socio-economic and environmental solutions in those regions in which these ecosystems predominate. Furthermore, a numerical modeling tool to study wave energy dissipation, focusing the analysis on the impact of natural ecosystems (coral reefs) on coastal erosion and flooding was implemented. This information will help coastal managers and decision-makers understand the coastal protection services provided by nearshore habitats in order to improve and design new coastal development strategies under global change scenarios.
The United Nations has resolved to start the process of negotiating an international treaty on marine genetic resources in the High Seas, because the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea does not cover these resources and they are under threat of extinction. However, when an international legal rule establishing international rights for “all people” over natural resources is in force, the problem of “who is entitled to what?” changes to “how to ensure conservation of resources?”, which in this case means how the conservation of these resources should be financed. In this paper, the benefits and problems, and possible legal solutions obtained from adopting a legal methodology, will be depicted, based on the work of legal scholars and formal legal methodology, particularly the structures of legal reasoning, and the absence of legal rules and possible solutions to this will be discussed. Problems related to the benefits of marine genetic resources in the High Seas include how they are obtained and for whom, and these problems should be addressed for the sake of clarity in future legal rules in a way that supports the conservation of these resources. This research paper concentrates on recent developments in the High Seas vis-à-vis marine genetic resources, and the problems of financing the conservation of these natural resources. It discusses possible solutions to these problems through the equitable sharing of the benefits, following other international treaties, legal reasoning and legal arguments in relation to the manifestation of public policy.
A radio-acoustic positioning system was used to assess the effects of shark cage-diving operators (SCDO) on the fine-scale movements of a non-focal species, the smooth stingray Bathytoshia brevicaudata. The results revealed that the time spent in the array was individually variable, but generally increased when SCDO were present and that the presence of SCDO may have the capacity to elicit changes in the space use of B. brevicaudata. These results indicate that the effects of marine wildlife tourism may extend beyond the focal species of interest.
Introducing effective marine reserves is a critical issue in fisheries management and marine ecosystem conservation. In recent years, a number of marine reserves or no-take marine protected areas (MPAs) have been implemented worldwide, and some MPAs have shown ecological and economic benefits. However, consideration for coordinated competition between institutions, a central for successful resource management, is often omitted in research on effective MPA management. Given increasing discussions on implementing MPAs in the high seas, where international fisheries often exemplify the tragedy of the commons, understanding potential competition between institutions can affect MPA management. With this in mind, we aimed to gain generic insight into non-cooperative fisheries management with MPAs. Specifically, we explored the effect of MPA establishment on (1) competition strength between fishery institutions, (2) fish population abundance resulting from the competition, and (3) distribution of the gross fishery profit between institutions. To approach these questions, we developed a minimal model that accounts a non-cooperative behavior of fishery institutions and population dynamics under the MPAs management. We demonstrate that, given a small price-to-cost ratio, a prominent increase in fishery competition could occur as a result of introducing an MPA, leading to reductions in fisheries profits and fish population abundance, and greater unevenness in distribution of the gross fishery profit. Intensified fishery competition was typically observed in the case where the rate of population exchange between the fishing grounds and the MPA is not large, and the fraction of the MPA is intermediate, suggesting that regulation agreements will be required to coordinate the competitive harvesting.
Overfishing is a primary cause of population declines for many shark species of conservation concern. However, means of obtaining information on fishery interactions and mortality, necessary for the development of successful conservation strategies, are often fisheries-dependent and of questionable quality for many species of commercially exploited pelagic sharks. We used satellite telemetry as a fisheries-independent tool to document fisheries interactions, and quantify fishing mortality of the highly migratory shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) in the western North Atlantic Ocean. Forty satellite-tagged shortfin mako sharks tracked over 3 years entered the Exclusive Economic Zones of 19 countries and were harvested in fisheries of five countries, with 30% of tagged sharks harvested. Our tagging-derived estimates of instantaneous fishing mortality rates (F = 0.19–0.56) were 10-fold higher than previous estimates from fisheries-dependent data (approx. 0.015–0.024), suggesting data used in stock assessments may considerably underestimate fishing mortality. Additionally, our estimates of F were greater than those associated with maximum sustainable yield, suggesting a state of overfishing. This information has direct application to evaluations of stock status and for effective management of populations, and thus satellite tagging studies have potential to provide more accurate estimates of fishing mortality and survival than traditional fisheries-dependent methodology.
Many ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) measures and restoration projects have been implemented to address the stressors that have negatively affected the United States (U.S.) Gulf of Mexico (GOM). Ecosystem simulation models are useful tools for tackling EBFM and restoration questions. Here, we review the current status of ecosystem modeling efforts for the U.S. GOM and whole GOM large marine ecosystem and identify future needs to address EBFM and restoration in these regions. Existing ecosystem models of the GOM are diverse, ranging from simple conceptual and qualitative models to biogeochemical-based end-to-end models and coupled and hybrid model platforms. Many models have focused on understanding the structure and functioning of GOM ecosystems and the impacts of EBFM measures such as bycatch reduction strategies and marine protected areas. By contrast, a small number of ecosystem models have been used specifically to address the other EBFM issues of the GOM and to assess restoration efforts (e.g., marsh restoration). The demands for EBFM and state and gulf-wide restoration activities will both be increasing in the GOM. Therefore, there is a critical need to better employ and enhance existing ecosystem models of the GOM, and to develop new ecosystem models, to more comprehensively address the different EBFM and restoration needs in the region. We provide suggestions to facilitate this endeavor. The development of consistent libraries of ecosystem models and gap analyses such as ours will help fisheries scientists to effectively tackle specific resource management questions in the different marine regions of the world.
Networks of no-take marine reserves (NTMRs) are a widely advocated strategy for managing coral reefs. However, uncertainty about the strength of population connectivity between individual reefs and NTMRs through larval dispersal remains a major obstacle to effective network design. In this study, larval dispersal among NTMRs and fishing grounds in the Philippines was inferred by conducting genetic parentage analysis on a coral-reef fish (Chaetodon vagabundus). Adult and juvenile fish were sampled intensively in an area encompassing approximately 90 km of coastline. Thirty-seven true parent-offspring pairs were accepted after screening 1978 juveniles against 1387 adults. The data showed all types of dispersal connections that may occur in NTMR networks, with assignments suggesting connectivity among NTMRs and fishing grounds (n = 35) far outnumbering those indicating self-recruitment (n = 2). Critically, half (51%) of the inferred occurrences of larval dispersal linked reefs managed by separate, independent municipalities and constituent villages, emphasising the need for nested collaborative management arrangements across management units to sustain NTMR networks. Larval dispersal appeared to be influenced by wind-driven seasonal reversals in the direction of surface currents. The best-fit larval dispersal kernel estimated from the parentage data predicted that 50% of larvae originating from a population would attempt to settle within 33 km, and 95% within 83 km. Mean larval dispersal distance was estimated to be 36.5 km. These results suggest that creating a network of closely spaced (less than a few tens of km apart) NTMRs can enhance recruitment for protected and fished populations throughout the NTMR network. The findings underscore major challenges for regional coral-reef management initiatives that must be addressed with priority: (1) strengthening management of NTMR networks across political or customary boundaries; and (2) achieving adequate population connectivity via larval dispersal to sustain reef-fish populations within these networks.
Despite their importance for human well-being, nearshore fisheries are often data poor, undervalued, and underappreciated in policy and development programs. We assess the value chain for nearshore Hawaiian coral reef fisheries, mapping post-catch distribution and disposition, and quantifying associated monetary, food security, and cultural values. We estimate that the total annual value of the nearshore fishery in Hawaiʻi is $10.3-$16.4 million, composed of non-commercial ($7.2-$12.9 million) and commercial ($2.97 million licensed + $148,500-$445,500 unlicensed) catch. Hawaii’s nearshore fisheries provide >7 million meals annually, with most (>5 million) from the non-commercial sector. Over a third (36%) of meals were planktivores, 26% piscivores, 21% primary consumers, and 18% secondary consumers. Only 62% of licensed commercial catch is accounted for in purchase reports, leaving 38% of landings unreported in sales. Value chains are complex, with major buyers for the commercial fishery including grocery stores (66%), retailers (19%), wholesalers (14%), and restaurants (<1%), who also trade and sell amongst themselves. The bulk of total nearshore catch (72–74%) follows a short value chain, with non-commercial fishers keeping catch for household consumption or community sharing. A small amount (~37,000kg) of reef fish—the equivalent of 1.8% of local catch—is imported annually into Hawaiʻi, 23,000kg of which arrives as passenger luggage on commercial flights from Micronesia. Evidence of exports to the US mainland exists, but is unquantifiable given existing data. Hawaiian nearshore fisheries support fundamental cultural values including subsistence, activity, traditional knowledge, and social cohesion. These small-scale coral reef fisheries provide large-scale benefits to the economy, food security, and cultural practices of Hawaiʻi, underscoring the need for sustainable management. This research highlights the value of information on the value chain for small-scale production systems, making the hidden economy of these fisheries visible and illuminating a range of conservation interventions applicable to Hawaiʻi and beyond.
Despite threats to human wellbeing from ecological degradation, public engagement with this issue remains at low levels. However, studies have shown that crafting messages to resonate with people’s personal experiences can enhance engagement. Recreational fishing is one of the principal ways in which people interact with aquatic environments, but long-term data from this perspective are considered rare. We uncovered 852 popular media records of recreational fishing for an Australian estuary across a 140-year period. Using information contained in these articles we analysed the species composition of recreational catches over time and constructed two distinct time series of catch and effort (n fish fisher-1 trip-1; kg fish fisher-1 trip-1) for recreational fishing trips and fishing club competitions (mean n and kg fish caught across all competitors, and n and kg fish caught by the competition winner). Reported species composition remained similar over time. Catch rates reported from recreational fishing trips (1900–1998) displayed a significant decline, averaging 32.5 fish fisher-1 trip-1 prior to 1960, and 18.8 fish fisher-1 trip-1 post-1960. Mean n fish fisher-1 competition-1 (1913–1983) also significantly declined, but best n fish fisher-1 competition-1 (1925–1980) displayed no significant change, averaging 31.2 fish fisher-1 competition-1 over the time series. Mean and best kg fish fisher-1 competition-1 trends also displayed no significant change, averaging 4.2 and 9.9 kg fisher-1 competition-1, respectively. These variable trends suggest that while some fishers experienced diminishing returns in this region over the last few decades, the most skilled inshore fishers were able to maintain their catch rates, highlighting the difficulties inherent in crafting conservation messages that will resonate with all sections of a community. Despite these challenges, this research demonstrates that popular media sources can provide multiple long-term trends at spatial scales, in units and via a recreational experience that many people can relate to.
By the late twenty-first century, climate models project enhanced dynamic sea level (DSL) rise along the western boundary of the North Atlantic associated with a decline in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). In contrast, coastal DSL variability over the last few decades has been driven largely by local winds, with limited evidence for coupling to AMOC strength. The unclear forcing-dependence and timescale-dependence of relationships between local winds, AMOC strength, and DSL obscures: (1) the validity of tide gauge-derived DSL gradients as a proxy of AMOC strength and (2) the assessment of climate model reliability. Here we analyze these relationships in the Community Earth System Model Large Ensemble (CESM-LE) over the 1920–2100 period. In CESM-LE, the amplitude of interannual to multidecadal DSL variability and its along-coast correlation are comparable to detrended annual mean tide gauge records. A “crossover timescale” of approximately 5–15 years partitions a local wind-driven coastal DSL regime from an overturning-related regime. Processes unrelated to either AMOC strength or local winds are important at interannual to decadal timescales. As external forcing increases in strength over the twenty-first century, DSL variability associated with the overturning circulation becomes dominant. While the largely externally forced, AMOC-associated, component explains only 29 ± 12% of DSL variance over the 1920–2010 period, it explains 89 ± 3% of the variance in the 2011–2100 period. We discuss the implications of these results on the reliability of climate model projections of regional DSL, the use of coastal DSL as a proxy for AMOC, and the origins of multidecadal DSL variability.
Strong empirical evidence supports recovery of reef fish populations with fishery closures. In countries where full exclusion of people from fishing may be perceived as inequitable, fishing gear restrictions on non-selective and destructive gears may offer socially relevant management alternatives to build recovery of fish biomass. Even so, very few studies have statistically compared the responses of tropical reef fisheries to alternative management strategies. Here we test for the effects of fishery closures and fishing gear restrictions on tropical reef fish biomass, at the community and family level, at 1,396 underwater surveys conducted at 617 unique sites across a spatial hierarchy within 22 global marine ecoregions representing five realms. We compare total biomass across local fish assemblages, and among 20 reef fish families inside marine protected areas (MPAs) with different fishing restrictions: no-take, hook and line fishing only, several fishing gears allowed, to sites open to all fishing gears. We include a further category representing remote sites where fishing pressure is low. As expected, full fishery closures, often referred to as ‘no-take’ zones, most benefit community and family level fish biomass in comparison with restrictions on fishing gears and openly fished sites. We further find that although biomass responses to fishery closures are highly variable across families, some fishery targets (e.g., Carcharhinidae, and Lutjanidae) respond positively to multiple restrictions on fishing gears (i.e., where gears other than hook and line fishing are not permitted). Remoteness also imparts a positive influence on the response of community level fish biomass and many fish families. Our findings provide strong support for the role of fishing restrictions in building recovery of fish biomass, and indicate important interactions among fishing gear types on removal of fish biomass among a range of reef fish families.
The effectiveness of management initiatives implemented in the context of the European Common Fisheries Policy has been questioned, especially with regard to the Mediterranean. Some of the analyses made to compare the fishing activity and management measures carried out in the North East Atlantic and in the Mediterranean do not take into account some of the differentiating peculiarities of each of these regions. At the same time, they resort to traditional fisheries management measures and do not discuss the role of marine protected areas as a complementary management tool. In this respect, the apparent failure of marine protected areas in the North-East Atlantic compared with the same in the Mediterranean is challenging European fishery scientists. Application of the classical holistic view of ecological succession to the functioning of fishery closures and no-use areas highlights the importance of combining both management regimes to fully satisfy both fishery- and biodiversity-oriented goals. We advocate that an optimal management strategy for designing an MPA to protect biodiversity and sustain fishing yields consists of combining a network of no-use areas (close to their mature state) with fish boxes (buffer zones maintained by fishing disturbance in a relatively early successional stage, where productivity is higher), under a multi-zoning scheme. In this framework, the importance of no-use areas for fisheries is based on several observations: (1) They preserve biological diversity at regional scale, at all levels—specific, habitat/seascape, and also genetic diversity and the structure of populations, allowing natural selection to operate. (2) They permit the natural variability of the system to be differentiated from the effects of regulation and to be integrated in appropriate sampling schemes as controls. (3) They maintain the natural size and age structure of the populations, hence maximizing potential fecundity, allowing biomass export to occur from core to regulated areas, dampening the fluctuations derived from deviations from the theoretical optimal effort in the fishing zone.
Portfolio selection is a flexible tool that can be used to support natural resource decision-making to optimize provision of ecosystem services. The natural resource portfolio literature includes applications in fisheries, forestry, agriculture, spatial planning, invasive pest and disease surveillance, climate change adaptation, and biodiversity conservation, among others. We contribute to this growing literature by proposing a set of essential questions to guide the development and implementation of empirical portfolios for natural resource management that deal with (1) the nature and objectives of the portfolio manager, (2) the definition of assets to be included in the portfolio, (3) the way in which returns and risk are measured and distributed, and (4) the definition of constraints in the programming problem. The approach is illustrated using landings data from the Colombian Pacific, a data limited fishery, to set catch limits in fisheries at the ecosystem level. We also develop a set of constraints in the programming problem to simulate potential policy options regarding resource sustainability and social equity. The resulting efficient catch portfolios can be used to optimize the flow of provisioning ecosystem services from this fishery.
Marine and coastal ecosystems are among the most productive environments in the world and their stocks of natural capital offer a bundle of vital ecosystem services. Anthropogenic pressure seriously threatens health and long-term sustainability of marine environments. For these reasons, integrated approaches capable of combining ecological and socio-economic aspects are needed to achieve nature conservation and sustainability targets. In this study, the value of natural capital of the Egadi Islands Marine Protected Area (EI-MPA) was assessed through a biophysical and trophodynamic environmental accounting model. The emergy value of both autotrophic and heterotrophic natural capital stocks was calculated for the main habitats of the EI-MPA. Eventually, the emergy value of natural capital was converted into monetary units to better communicate its importance to local managers and policy-makers. The total value of natural capital in the EI-MPA resulted in 1.12·1021 sej, equivalent to about 1.17 billion of euros. In addition, using Marxan software, the results of the environmental accounting were integrated with spatial data on main human uses. This integration took into account the trade-offs between conservation measures and human exploitation by means of two different scenarios, with and without considering human uses in the EI-MPA. The comparison between the scenarios highlighted the importance of taking into account human activities in marine spatial planning (MSP), allowing the identification of key areas for natural capital conservation. In conclusion, this study showed the importance of integrating environmental accounting with conservation planning to support effective strategies for ecological protection and sustainable management of human activities. The results of this study represent a first benchmark useful to explore alternative nature conservation strategies in the EI-MPA, and, more in general, in Mediterranean MPAs.
With the growth of smartphone usage the number of social media posts has significantly increased and represents potentially valuable information for management, including of natural resources and the environment. Already, evidence of using ‘human sensor’ in crises management suggests that collective knowledge could be used to complement traditional monitoring. This research uses Twitter data posted from the Great Barrier Reef region, Australia, to assess whether the extent and type of data could be used to Great Barrier Reef organisations as part of their monitoring program. The analysis reveals that large amounts of tweets, covering the geographic area of interest, are available and that the pool of information providers is greatly enhanced by the large number of tourists to this region. A keyword and sentiment analysis demonstrates the usefulness of the Twitter data, but also highlights that the actual number of Reef-related tweets is comparatively small and lacks specificity. Suggestions for further steps towards the development of an integrative data platform that incorporates social media are provided.
Ship exhaust emissions have been considered a significant source of air pollution, with adverse impacts on the global climate and human health. China, as one of the largest shipping countries, has long been in great need of in-depth analysis of ship emissions. This study for the first time developed a comprehensive national-scale ship emission inventory with 0.005° × 0.005° resolution in China for 2014, using the bottom-up method based on Automatic Identification System (AIS) data of the full year of 2014. The emission estimation involved 166,546 unique vessels observed from over 15 billion AIS reports, covering OGVs (ocean-going vessels), CVs (coastal vessels) and RVs (river vessels). Results show that the total estimated ship emissions for China in 2014 were 1.1937 × 106 t (SO2), 2.2084 × 106 t (NOX), 1.807 × 105 t (PM10), 1.665 × 105 t (PM2.5), 1.116 × 105 t (HC), 2.419 × 105 t (CO), and 7.843 × 107 t (CO2, excluding RVs), respectively. OGVs were the main emission contributors, with proportions of 47%–74% of the emission totals for different species. Vessel type with the most emissions was container (~ 43.6%), followed by bulk carrier (~ 17.5%), oil tanker (~ 5.7%) and fishing ship (~ 4.9%). Monthly variations showed that emissions from transport vessels had a low point in February, while fishing ship presented two emission peaks in May and September. In terms of port clusters, ship emissions in BSA (Bohai Sea Area), YRD (Yangtze River Delta) and PRD (Pearl River Delta) accounted for ~ 13%, ~ 28% and ~ 17%, respectively, of the total emissions in China. On the contrast, the average emission intensities in PRD were the highest, followed by the YRD and BSA regions. The establishment of this high-spatiotemporal-resolution ship emission inventory fills the gap of national-scale ship emission inventory of China, and the corresponding ship emission characteristics are expected to provide certain reference significance for the management and control of the ship emissions.
Remote sensing techniques are currently the main methods providing elevation data used to produce Digital Terrain Models (DTM). Terrain attributes (e.g. slope, orientation, rugosity) derived from DTMs are commonly used as surrogates of species or habitat distribution in ecological studies. While DTMs’ errors are known to propagate to terrain attributes, their impact on ecological analyses is however rarely documented. This study assessed the impact of data acquisition artefacts on habitat maps and species distribution models. DTMs of German Bank (off Nova Scotia, Canada) at five different spatial scales were altered to artificially introduce different levels of common data acquisition artefacts. These data were used in 615 unsupervised classifications to map potential habitat types based on biophysical characteristics of the area, and in 615 supervised classifications (MaxEnt) to predict sea scallop distribution across the area. Differences between maps and models built from altered data and reference maps and models were assessed. Roll artefacts decreased map accuracy (up to 14% lower) and artificially increased models’ performances. Impacts from other types of artefacts were not consistent, either decreasing or increasing accuracy and performance measures. The spatial distribution of habitats and spatial predictions of sea scallop distributions were always affected by data quality (i.e. artefacts), spatial scale of the data, and the selection of variables used in the classifications. This research demonstrates the importance of these three factors in building a study design, and highlights the need for error quantification protocols that can assist when maps and models are used in decision-making, for instance in conservation and management.