There is great concern regarding the population status of the endangered Galapagos sea lion (GSL) because it has drastically decreased over the last 30 years. We determined the population size and growth trend of the GSL in the Galapagos southeastern region (SER) at three population levels based on the available census data: 1) SER (2011–2015), including 13 rookeries on the four islands San Cristóbal (SC), Española, Floreana, and Santa Fe, comprising 58% of the archipelago’s population; 2) SC (2011–2015), including five rookeries, comprising 52% of the SER population; and 3) El Malecón (2005–2015), the largest rookery on SC and in the SER (43% of the population on SC and 22% in the SER). We also analyzed the influence of environmental variability on pup abundance in these rookeries. The current GSL population size in the SER, after applying correction factors to the counts, is estimated at approximately 2300–4100 individuals and has declined at an average annual rate (ʎ) of 8.7% over the last five years. A similar trend was determined for SC but at ʎ = 1.4% during the same period. For El Malecón, a count-based population viability analysis using a diffusion approximation approach showed that the population increased from 2005 to 2015 at ʎ = 2%. The interannual variability in pup abundance was associated with anomalies in sea surface temperature linked to oceanographic-atmospheric events, which impact the abundance and availability of prey, and ultimately may determine the population’s reproductive success. Since rookeries in the SER had different population trends, management actions should be implemented based on their specific conditions, giving priority to rookeries such as El Malecón, which, despite showing a slightly increasing population trend, still faces a high risk of extinction due to anthropogenic disturbances and environmental variability that may affect its growth and survival.
Protected areas are a crucial tool for halting the loss of biodiversity. Yet, the management of protected areas is under resourced, impacting the ability to achieve effective conservation actions. Effective management depends on the application of the best available knowledge, which can include both scientific evidence and the local knowledge of onsite managers. Despite the clear value of evidence-based conservation, there is still little known about how much scientific evidence is used to guide the management of protected areas. This knowledge gap is especially evident in developing countries, where resource limitations and language barriers may create additional challenges for the use of scientific evidence in management. To assess the extent to which scientific evidence is used to inform management decisions in a developing country, we surveyed Brazilian protected area managers about the information they use to support their management decisions. We targeted on-ground managers who are responsible for management decisions made at the local protected area level. We asked managers about the sources of evidence they use, how frequently they assess the different sources of evidence and the scientific content of the different sources of evidence. We also considered a range of factors that might explain the use of scientific evidence to guide the management of protected areas, such as the language spoken by managers, the accessibility of evidence sources and the characteristics of the managers and the protected areas they manage. The managers who responded to our questionnaire reported that they most frequently made decisions based on their personal experience, with scientific evidence being used relatively infrequently. While managers in our study tended to value scientific evidence less highly than other sources, most managers still considered science important for management decisions. Managers reported that the accessibility of scientific evidence is low relative to other types of evidence, with key barriers being the low levels of open access research and insufficient technical training to enable managers to interpret research findings. Based on our results, we suggest that managers in developing countries face all the same challenges as those in developed countries, along with additional language barriers that can prevent greater use of scientific evidence to support effective management of protected areas in Brazil.
Policy making is required in cases in which a public good needs to be either maintained or created, and private or civil initiatives cannot deal alone with this. Policy making thus starts with a phase of problem identification and determining whether there is a problem that needs to be dealt with. Rapidly evolving contexts exert influence on policy makers who have to take decisions much faster and more accurately than in the past, also facing greater complexity. There is a need for a method that lowers the lead time of the exploratory phase of the policy cycle. At the same time the method should create a joint understanding of the most important interactions. This paper proposes QUICKScan, a method, process and spatially explicit tool, to jointly scope policy problems in a participatory setting, investigate the most important interactions and feedbacks and assesses the state of knowledge and data of relevance to the problem. QUICKScan uses strongly moderated participatory workshops bringing together a wide range of stakeholders relevant to the policy issue. These moderated workshops jointly build an expert system in a spatially explicit tool using functionality of bayesian belief networks, python programming, simple map algebra and knowledge matrices, with a strong focus on visualization of results. QUICKScan has been applied in 70 different applications in a range of different policy contexts, stakeholders and physical locations. Through these applications participants were able to internalize the knowledge that was usually handed to them in briefs and reports, to develop a joint understanding of the main interactions and their link to impacts and to develop a problem statement and solution space in a reduced lead time. Ultimately, QUICKScan demonstrates another role of science, not solely as a knowledge production, but also facilitating the knowledge consumption.