Conservation Targets & Planning

Optimising Seagrass Conservation for Ecological Functions

Henderson CJ, Stevens T, Lee SY, Gilby BL, Schlacher TA, Connolly RM, Warnken J, Maxwell PS, Olds AD. Optimising Seagrass Conservation for Ecological Functions. Ecosystems [Internet]. 2019 . Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10021-019-00343-3
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $39.95
Type: Journal Article

Animals are central to numerous ecological processes that shape the structure and function of ecosystems. It follows that species that are strongly linked to specific functions can represent these functions spatially and hence be useful in conservation planning. Here we test this notion of ‘functional species surrogacy’ for the conservation of seagrass meadows that have been impacted by stressors. We measured algal herbivory and herbivorous fish assemblages across a range of seagrass meadows in the Moreton Bay Marine Park, Queensland, Australia. We determined the suitability of herbivorous fish to act as a surrogate for the function of algal herbivory and modelled the abundance of this surrogate, and thus herbivory, in seagrass meadows to compare the spatial distribution of this function within existing reserves. We used underwater video systems to determine the abundance of all herbivorous fish species in seagrass meadows. The abundance of the dusky rabbitfish (Siganus fuscescens) was the best predictor of algal herbivory in seagrass meadows, supporting the suitability of this species as a functional surrogate. The distribution of dusky rabbitfish, and therefore the ecological function of herbivory, was not well represented in the Moreton Bay Marine Park protected areas. Only 7% of the equivalent area of seagrass meadows protected in marine reserves were found to have high abundances of dusky rabbitfish. We demonstrate that the abundance of functionally important herbivores can be suitable as a surrogate for herbivory in seagrass conservation. Our findings show that data on the spatial distribution of ecological functions can alter priorities for reserve design, and we suggest that our functional approach to species surrogacy is likely to improve conservation performance in seagrass ecosystems.

Identifying species threatened with local extinction in tropical reef fisheries using historical reconstruction of species occurrence

Buckley SM, McClanahan TR, Morales EMQuintan, Mwakha V, Nyanapah J, Otwoma LM, Pandolfi JM. Identifying species threatened with local extinction in tropical reef fisheries using historical reconstruction of species occurrence Patterson HM. PLOS ONE [Internet]. 2019 ;14(2):e0211224. Available from: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0211224
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Identifying the species that are at risk of local extinction in highly diverse ecosystems is a big challenge for conservation science. Assessments of species status are costly and difficult to implement in developing countries with diverse ecosystems due to a lack of species-specific surveys, species-specific data, and other resources. Numerous techniques are devised to determine the threat status of species based on the availability of data and budgetary limits. On this basis, we developed a framework that compared occurrence data of historically exploited reef species in Kenya from existing disparate data sources. Occurrence data from archaeological remains (750-1500CE) was compared with occurrence data of these species catch assessments, and underwater surveys (1991-2014CE). This comparison indicated that only 67 species were exploited over a 750 year period, 750-1500CE, whereas 185 species were landed between 1995 and 2014CE. The first step of our framework identified 23 reef species as threatened with local extinction. The second step of the framework further evaluated the possibility of local extinction with Bayesian extinction analyses using occurrence data from naturalists’ species list with the existing occurrence data sources. The Bayesian extinction analysis reduced the number of reef species threatened with local extinction from 23 to 15. We compared our findings with three methods used for assessing extinction risk. Commonly used extinction risk methods varied in their ability to identify reef species that we identified as threatened with local extinction by our comparative and Bayesian method. For example, 12 of the 15 threatened species that we identified using our framework were listed as either least concern, unevaluated, or data deficient in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature red list. Piscivores and macro-invertivores were the only functional groups found to be locally extinct. Comparing occurrence data from disparate sources revealed a large number of historically exploited reef species that are possibly locally extinct. Our framework addressed biases such as uncertainty in priors, sightings and survey effort, when estimating the probability of local extinction. Our inexpensive method showed the value and potential for disparate data to fill knowledge gaps that exist in species extinction assessments.

Social equity shapes zone-selection: Balancing aquatic biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services delivery in the transboundary Danube River Basin

Domisch S, Kakouei K, Martínez-López J, Bagstad KJ, Magrach A, Balbi S, Villa F, Funk A, Hein T, Borgwardt F, et al. Social equity shapes zone-selection: Balancing aquatic biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services delivery in the transboundary Danube River Basin. Science of The Total Environment [Internet]. 2019 ;656:797 - 807. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969718347041
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Freshwater biodiversity is declining, despite national and international efforts to manage and protect freshwater ecosystems. Ecosystem-based management (EBM) has been proposed as an approach that could more efficiently and adaptively balance ecological and societal needs. However, this raises the question of how social and ecological objectives can be included in an integrated management plan. Here, we present a generic model-coupling framework tailored to address this question for freshwater ecosystems, using three components: biodiversity, ecosystem services (ESS), and a spatial prioritisation that aims to balance the spatial representation of biodiversity and ESS supply and demand. We illustrate this model-coupling approach within the Danube River Basin using the spatially explicit, potential distribution of (i) 85 fish species as a surrogate for biodiversity as modelled using hierarchical Bayesian models, and (ii) four estimated ESS layers produced by the Artificial Intelligence for Ecosystem Services (ARIES) platform (with ESS supply defined as carbon storage and flood regulation, and demand specified as recreation and water use). These are then used for (iii) a joint spatial prioritisation of biodiversity and ESS employing Marxan with Zones, laying out the spatial representation of multiple management zones. Given the transboundary setting of the Danube River Basin, we also run comparative analyses including the country-level purchasing power parity (PPP)-adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) and each country's percent cover of the total basin area as potential cost factors, illustrating a scheme for balancing the share of establishing specific zones among countries. We demonstrate how emphasizing various biodiversity or ESS targets in an EBM model-coupling framework can be used to cost-effectively test various spatially explicit management options across a multi-national case study. We further discuss possible limitations, future developments, and requirements for effectively managing a balance between biodiversity and ESS supply and demand in freshwater ecosystems.

Strategies in scheduling marine protected area establishment in a network system

Kininmonth S, Weeks R, Abesamis RA, Bernardo LPatrick C, Beger M, Treml EA, Williamson D, Pressey RL. Strategies in scheduling marine protected area establishment in a network system. Ecological Applications [Internet]. 2018 . Available from: https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/eap.1820
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $38.00
Type: Journal Article

Instantaneous implementation of systematic conservation plans at regional scales is rare. More typically, planned actions are applied incrementally over periods of years or decades. During protracted implementation, the character of the connected ecological system will change as a function of external anthropogenic pressures, local metapopulation processes, and environmental fluctuations. For heavily exploited systems, habitat quality will deteriorate as the plan is implemented, potentially influencing the schedule of protected area implementation necessary to achieve conservation objectives. Understanding the best strategy to adopt for applying management within a connected environment is desirable, especially given limited conservation resources. Here, we model the sequential application of no‐take marine protected areas (MPAs) in the central Philippines within a metapopulation framework, using a range of network‐based decision rules. The model was based on selecting 33 sites for protection from 101 possible sites over a 35‐yr period. The graph‐theoretic network criteria to select sites for protection included PageRank, maximum degree, closeness centrality, betweenness centrality, minimum degree, random, and historical events. We also included a dynamic strategy called colonization–extinction rate that was updated every year based on the changing capacity of each site to produce and absorb larvae. Each rule was evaluated in the context of achieving the maximum metapopulation mean lifetime at the conclusion of the implementation phase. MPAs were designated through the alteration of the extinction risk parameter. The highest ranked criteria were PageRank while the actual implementation from historical records ranked lowest. Our results indicate that protecting the sites ranked highest with regard to larval supply is likely to yield the highest benefit for fish abundance and fish metapopulation persistence. Model results highlighted the benefits of including network processes in conservation planning.

Light and Shade in Marine Conservation Across European and Contiguous Seas

Fraschetti S, Pipitone C, Mazaris AD, Rilov G, Badalamenti F, Bevilacqua S, Claudet J, Carić H, Dahl K, D’Anna G, et al. Light and Shade in Marine Conservation Across European and Contiguous Seas. Frontiers in Marine Science [Internet]. 2018 ;5. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fmars.2018.00420/full
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

As a response to increasing human pressures on marine ecosystems, the legislation aimed at improving the conservation and management of marine coastal areas in European and Contiguous Seas (ECS) underwent crucial advances. ECS, however, still remain largely affected by increasing threats leading to biodiversity loss. Here, by using emblematic case studies and expert knowledge, we review current conservation tools, comparing their application in different areas to assess their effectiveness, potential for synergies, and contradictions. Despite regional differences in their application, the existing legislative frameworks have the potential to regulate human activities and to protect marine biodiversity. However, four challenges remain to be addressed to fully achieve environmental policy goals: (1) Lack of shared vision representing a limitation in transboundary collaboration. Although all EU countries are committed to fulfil EU Directives and other binding international legislative acts, a remarkable heterogeneity exists among countries in the compliance with the common legislation on conservation and in their degree of implementation. (2) Lack of systematic procedures for the selection of protected marine sites. Regional and national approaches in designating Natura 2000 sites and nationally designated marine protected areas (MPAs) reflect varying conservation targets and importance of conservation issues in political agendas. (3) Lack of coherent ecological networks. Natura 2000 sites and other MPAs are still far from reaching the status of effective networks in all considered case studies. (4) Hotspot of conflicts with private economic interests prevailing over conservation aims. Recommendations are given to overcome the fragmented approach still characterizing the conservation and management of coastal marine environments. Holistic, integrated, ecosystem-based, cross-cutting approaches can avoid conflicts among institutions so as to provide effective and timely solutions to current and future challenges concerning the conservation and management of marine ecosystems and associated goods and services.

Assessing the Conservation Potential of Fish and Corals in Aquariums Globally

da Silva R, Kelly PPearce, Zimmerman B, Knott M, Foden W, Conde DA. Assessing the Conservation Potential of Fish and Corals in Aquariums Globally. Journal for Nature Conservation [Internet]. In Press . Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1617138118302723?dgcid=raven_sd_search_email
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Aquatic ecosystems are indispensable for life on earth and yet despite their essential function and services roles, marine and freshwater biomes are facing unprecedented threats from both traditional and emerging anthropogenic stressors. The resultant species and ecosystem-level threat severity requires an urgent response from the conservation community. With their care facilities, veterinary and conservation breeding expertise, reintroduction and restoration and public communication reach, stand-alone aquariums and zoos holding aquatic taxa have great collective potential to help address the current biodiversity crisis, which is now greatest in freshwater than land habitats. However, uncertainty regarding the number of species kept in such facilities hinders assessment of their conservation value. Here we analyzed standardized and shared data of zoological institution members of Species360, for fish and Anthozoa species (i.e. Actinopterygii, Elasmobranchii, Holocephali, Myxini, Sarcopterygii and Anthozoa). To assess the conservation potential of populations held in these institutions, we cross-referenced the Species360 records with the following conservation schemes: the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES), the IUCN Red List, Climate Change Vulnerability, Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) and The Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE). We found that aquariums hold four of the six fish species listed by the IUCN Red List as ‘Extinct in the Wild’, 31% of Anthozoa species listed by Foden et al. (2013) as Vulnerable to Climate Change, 19 out of the 111 Anthozoa EDGE species, and none of the species prioritized by the AZE. However, it’s very likely that significant additional species of high conservation value are held in aquariums that do not manage their records in standardized, sharable platforms such as Species360. Our study highlights both the great value of aquarium and zoo collections for addressing the aquatic biodiversity crisis, as well as the importance that they maintain comprehensive, standardised, globally-shared taxonomic data.

New method to identify and map flagship fleets for promoting conservation and ecotourism

Santarém F, Pereira P, Saarinen J, Brito JCarlos. New method to identify and map flagship fleets for promoting conservation and ecotourism. Biological Conservation [Internet]. 2019 ;229:113 - 124. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320718310176
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Evaluating flagship species and their potential for biological preservation and ecotourism development is a key issue for many audiences within the conservation and social fields. Despite several methods available to identify flagships, their application is often constrained in remote, poorly studied regions. Developments are needed in statistical and spatially-explicit approaches to assess species' traits influencing flagship appealing, to identify flagship fleets, and to map the location of flagship hotspots. Here, we developed a new method to identify flagship species in regions with knowledge gaps, using a two-stage statistical approach (ordination and clustering algorithms) to assess variable's contribution to appealing and to group species sharing similar characteristics into flagship fleets. We then mapped areas concentrating the highest richness of flagships. Unique morphologies and behaviours, conservation status, endemicity, body size and weight, and feeding habits were the traits contributing the most to the flagship appealing. Nine flagship fleets were identified, from which two were the most suitable for conservation marketing and ecotourism promotion campaigns in Sahara-Sahel: Fleet A comprising 36 large-bodied species (18 mammals, 18 reptiles) and Fleet B including 70 small-bodied species (10 birds, six mammals, 54 reptiles). A total of 19 and 16 hotspots were identified for large-bodied and small-bodied flagships, respectively. The methodology was suitable to identify flagship species for conservation marketing and for developing ecotourism operations in the Sahara-Sahel, to independently assess which species' traits are relevant for flagship appealing, and to organise fleets for multispecies-based marketing campaigns. The framework is scalable and replicable worldwide.

Global challenges for seagrass conservation

Unsworth RKF, McKenzie LJ, Collier CJ, Cullen-Unsworth LC, Duarte CM, Eklöf JS, Jarvis JC, Jones BL, Nordlund LM. Global challenges for seagrass conservation. Ambio [Internet]. 2018 . Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13280-018-1115-y
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Seagrasses, flowering marine plants that form underwater meadows, play a significant global role in supporting food security, mitigating climate change and supporting biodiversity. Although progress is being made to conserve seagrass meadows in select areas, most meadows remain under significant pressure resulting in a decline in meadow condition and loss of function. Effective management strategies need to be implemented to reverse seagrass loss and enhance their fundamental role in coastal ocean habitats. Here we propose that seagrass meadows globally face a series of significant common challenges that must be addressed from a multifaceted and interdisciplinary perspective in order to achieve global conservation of seagrass meadows. The six main global challenges to seagrass conservation are (1) a lack of awareness of what seagrasses are and a limited societal recognition of the importance of seagrasses in coastal systems; (2) the status of many seagrass meadows are unknown, and up-to-date information on status and condition is essential; (3) understanding threatening activities at local scales is required to target management actions accordingly; (4) expanding our understanding of interactions between the socio-economic and ecological elements of seagrass systems is essential to balance the needs of people and the planet; (5) seagrass research should be expanded to generate scientific inquiries that support conservation actions; (6) increased understanding of the linkages between seagrass and climate change is required to adapt conservation accordingly. We also explicitly outline a series of proposed policy actions that will enable the scientific and conservation community to rise to these challenges. We urge the seagrass conservation community to engage stakeholders from local resource users to international policy-makers to address the challenges outlined here, in order to secure the future of the world’s seagrass ecosystems and maintain the vital services which they supply.

Light and Shade in Marine Conservation Across European and Contiguous Seas

Fraschetti S, Pipitone C, Mazaris AD, Rilov G, Badalamenti F, Bevilacqua S, Claudet J, Carić H, Dahl K, D’Anna G, et al. Light and Shade in Marine Conservation Across European and Contiguous Seas. Frontiers in Marine Science [Internet]. 2018 ;5. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2018.00420/full
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

As a response to increasing human pressures on marine ecosystems, the legislation aimed at improving the conservation and management of marine coastal areas in European and Contiguous Seas (ECS) underwent crucial advances. ECS, however, still remain largely affected by increasing threats leading to biodiversity loss. Here, by using emblematic case studies and expert knowledge, we review current conservation tools, comparing their application in different areas to assess their effectiveness, potential for synergies, and contradictions. Despite regional differences in their application, the existing legislative frameworks have the potential to regulate human activities and to protect marine biodiversity. However, four challenges remain to be addressed to fully achieve environmental policy goals: (1) Lack of shared vision representing a limitation in transboundary collaboration. Although all EU countries are committed to fulfil EU Directives and other binding international legislative acts, a remarkable heterogeneity exists among countries in the compliance with the common legislation on conservation and in their degree of implementation. (2) Lack of systematic procedures for the selection of protected marine sites. Regional and national approaches in designating Natura 2000 sites and nationally designated marine protected areas (MPAs) reflect varying conservation targets and importance of conservation issues in political agendas. (3) Lack of coherent ecological networks. Natura 2000 sites and other MPAs are still far from reaching the status of effective networks in all considered case studies. (4) Hotspot of conflicts with private economic interests prevailing over conservation aims. Recommendations are given to overcome the fragmented approach still characterizing the conservation and management of coastal marine environments. Holistic, integrated, ecosystem-based, cross-cutting approaches can avoid conflicts among institutions so as to provide effective and timely solutions to current and future challenges concerning the conservation and management of marine ecosystems and associated goods and services.

Visitors’ willingness to pay marine conservation fees in Barbados

Schuhmann PW, Skeete R, Waite R, Lorde T, Bangwayo-Skeete P, Oxenford HA, Gill D, Moore W, Spencer F. Visitors’ willingness to pay marine conservation fees in Barbados. Tourism Management [Internet]. 2019 ;71:315 - 326. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261517718302462
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $19.95
Type: Journal Article

Human development and dense populations along coastal zones impact the health of coastal and marine ecosystems, which is detrimental to the economic sustainability of tourism. Visitors to Barbados are primarily attracted to the country's coastal and marine resources, making the protection of the marine environment paramount. In developing countries with limited resources for environmental management, who pays the cost of conservation, and the amount, has been the subject of much debate. We apply parametric and non-parametric estimations to investigate the factors driving the willingness of tourists to pay a fee for coastal and marine conservation. The mean willingness to pay ranged from US$36 to US$52 per visit to Barbados. Based on general consensus, we suggest that such a fee if implemented should be paid into a dedicated conservation fund. Furthermore, consideration should be given to charging only non-Caribbean tourists given that regional visitors displayed discontent in paying such fees.

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