Data Analysis & Interpretation
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Data analysis and interpretation are part of the evaluation aspect of adaptive management, the process for conserving, protecting, and, where appropriate, restoring lands, waters and other resources in a protected area. Adaptive management is often defined as a system of management practices based upon clearly identified outcomes, where monitoring evaluates whether management actions are achieving desired results (objectives). Adaptive management is a decision process that promotes flexible decision making that can be adjusted in the face of uncertainties as outcomes from management actions and other events become better understood through data analysis and interpretation.
Adaptive management accounts for the fact that complete knowledge about fish, wildlife, plants, habitats, and the ecological processes supporting them may be lacking. The role of natural variability contributing to ecological resilience also is recognized as an important principle of adaptive management. It is not a “trial and error” process, but rather emphasizes learning while doing based upon available scientific information and best professional judgment considering site-specific biotic and abiotic factors in protected areas. Adaptive management results in effective monitoring and evaluation of a protected area management plan.
For many protected area practitioners, data analysis and interpretation can be a daunting task. Often, resources and training are provided on the practical aspects of monitoring without much guidance on how to analyse and interpret the data for adaptive management. However, there is little point in collecting data unless you have plans to use that data for communication and/or adaptive management purposes and it is therefore very important to acquire some skills in this area.
Below are some key resources that can be used by practitioners prior to designing monitoring programs right through to the process of adaptive management. For those who have time and are truly invested in understanding data analysis, Houk’s (2010) guidebook is highly recommended. Beneath the data analysis guidebooks are a short list of references for statistical analysis.
Understanding the scale, location and nature conservation values of the lands over which Indigenous Peoples exercise traditional rights is central to implementation of several global conservation and climate agreements. However, spatial information on Indigenous lands has never been aggregated globally. Here, using publicly available geospatial resources, we show that Indigenous Peoples manage or have tenure rights over at least ~38 million km2 in 87 countries or politically distinct areas on all inhabited continents. This represents over a quarter of the world’s land surface, and intersects about 40% of all terrestrial protected areas and ecologically intact landscapes (for example, boreal and tropical primary forests, savannas and marshes).
U.S. Department of the Interior. 2009. Adaptive Management: The U.S. Department of the Interior Technical Guide.
The purpose of this technical guide is to present an operational definition of adaptive management, identify the conditions in which adaptive management should be considered, and describe the process of using adaptive management for managing natural resources. The guide is not an exhaustive discussion of adaptive management, nor does it include detailed specifications for individual projects. However, it should aid protected area managers in determining when and how to apply adaptive management.
Climate Change, Coral Loss, and the Curious Case of the Parrotfish Paradigm: Why Don’t Marine Protected Areas Improve Reef Resilience?
Scientists have advocated for local interventions, such as creating marine protected areas and implementing fishery restrictions, as ways to mitigate local stressors to limit the effects of climate change on reef-building corals. However, in a literature review, we find little empirical support for the notion of managed resilience. We outline some reasons for why marine protected areas and the protection of herbivorous fish (especially parrotfish) have had little effect on coral resilience. One key explanation is that the impacts of local stressors (e.g., pollution and fishing) are often swamped by the much greater effect of ocean warming on corals.
Quod, JP., Salvat, B.; Bissery, C., Terrasson, S., Caugant, G., Lacouture, P., Raude, M. 2010. CoReMo Coral Reef Monitoring Data Entry System 2 v3.6.1. ARVAM Oceanology
CoReMo software was developed by ARVAM with support from the French Overseas Ministry, Réunion Regional Council and the EU, and in close collaboration with the WorldFish Center, Penang, Malaysia. The software is fully interoperable with ReefBase and FishBase.
CoReMo 3 is designed to help users enter and analyse data collected using the methods and protocols outlined in Methods for Ecological Monitoring of Coral Reefs.
The aim of the present report is to provide a comparative assessment of commonly used pelagic sampling methods. We do this by undertaking a qualitative, yet comprehensive, review of the published literature to identify their potential advantages, limitations, and their relevance to monitoring efforts. A ‘silver-bullet’ approach to pelagic monitoring likely does not exist, nor is necessarily feasible. Instead, this comparative assessment provides a blueprint for guiding sampling activities in the context of pelagic monitoring efforts. Such information is essential to promoting transparency, repeatability, and standardisation across studies and institutions, so that method selection aligns with study objectives, with a clear understanding of benefits and limitations.
This compendium of guidance provides details of information sources for capturing, managing, using, and sharing data, all in the context of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The primary aim of this document is to assist the staff of national governments and non-governmental organisations who are responsible for the capture, management and use of data and information with respect to the biodiversity-related conventions. This compendium in particular aims to support efforts towards improving the coordination of data and information systems to help governments maximise cost effectiveness when reporting on different biodiversity-related conventions.
This compendium is a compilation of available global databases. It provides a basis for increasing access to these databases through the CBD Clearing-House Mechanism and other appropriate tools, and is intended to direct Convention Parties to data and information that can inform the effective implementation of the conventions. As a next step it is intended to make this document a living document and therefore to update it when additional material becomes available and to turn the information into a searchable database online.
Our rapidly warming climate is threatening coral reefs as thermal anomalies trigger mass coral bleaching events. Deep (or “mesophotic”) coral reefs are hypothesised to act as major ecological refuges from mass bleaching, but empirical assessments are limited. We evaluated the potential of mesophotic reefs within the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and adjacent Coral Sea to act as thermal refuges by characterising long-term temperature conditions and assessing impacts during the 2016 mass bleaching event. We found that summer upwelling initially provided thermal relief at upper mesophotic depths (40 m), but then subsided resulting in anomalously warm temperatures even at depth.
Feinsinger, P. 2001. Designing Field Studies for Biodiversity Conservation. Island Press.
This book explains how to undertake field studies to guide conservation work and is for anyone working in conservation regardless of their professional or scientific background. The methods and procedures of scientific inquiry are explained in a step-by-step manner. The author wants to make the process of doing science accessible and effective. The purpose of this book is not only to offer information, but primarily to catalyze the process of good thinking, so that readers can learn how to think and understand the importance of broad inquiry, no matter what the conservation project.
Developing a framework for the efficient design and management of large scale marine protected areas
This study identifies the importance of: acquiring robust baseline data, being fully protected (no-take), using ecosystembased management, community inclusion, and of adopting an ecologically connected network approach. These features are needed for large marine reserves to maximize achieving both ecological and socioeconomic goals, with particular attention to engagement of local communities. This study opens the possibility of refining and adapting the criteria developed through the PIMR case study as starting point for other Large- Scale MPAs, as their global expansion could benefit from comparative analysis. It also acknowledges the importance of having comparative design and management guides, contributing towards globally recognized standards for large-scale MPAs.
Marine fisheries throughout the world are in serious decline due to overharvesting (National Research Council, 2001), and management for sustainable fisheries requires effective tactics for limiting exploitation rates. Limitations based on annual stock assessments and total allowable catches calculated from these assessments can be dangerous, and marine protected areas (MPAs) are one tool to limit exploitation rates directly even when total stock size is highly uncertain (Walters, 2000).
Field Note - Discovery of a recovering climax Acropora community in Kanton Lagoon in the remote Phoenix Islands Protected Area
The Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) is in a naturally ironpoor region in the equatorial central Pacific. The main introduction of iron to this environment is from maritime debris, especially shipwrecks and anchor gear, and is linked to proliferation of turf algae and benthic bacterial communities, and the formation of degraded ‘black reefs’...
Difficulties in scaling up theoretical and experimental results have raised controversy over the consequences of biodiversity loss for the functioning of natural ecosystems. Using a global survey of reef fish assemblages, we show that in contrast to previous theoretical and experimental studies, ecosystem functioning (as measured by standing biomass) scales in a nonsaturating manner with biodiversity (as measured by species and functional richness) in this ecosystem. Our field study also shows a significant and negative interaction between human population density and biodiversity on ecosystem functioning (i.e., for the same human density there were larger reductions in standing biomass at more diverse reefs).
Our global analysis of nearly 1,800 tropical reefs reveals how the intensity of human impacts in the surrounding seascape, measured as a function of human population size and accessibility to reefs (“gravity”), diminishes the effectiveness of marine reserves at sustaining reef fish biomass and the presence of top predators, even where compliance with reserve rules is high. Critically, fish biomass in high-compliance marine reserves located where human impacts were intensive tended to be less than a quarter that of reserves where human impacts were low. Similarly, the probability of encountering top predators on reefs with high human impacts was close to zero, even in high-compliance marine reserves.
Guidelines For Undertaking Rapid Biodiversity Assessments In Terrestrial And Marine Environments In The Pacific
The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) presents these guidelines for undertaking rapid biodiversity assessments in its Pacific island member countries and territories: Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia. These assessments are referred to as BIORAPs. The guidelines are recommended to be used by SPREP members for the planning and implementation of terrestrial and marine BIORAP surveys, and subsequent monitoring of important sites. Survey methodologies and systems selected as part of the guidelines should:
■ Take account of the IUCN Red List status of species.
■ Enable the identification of priority habitats or areas based on those species.
Pomeroy, R.S., Parks, J.E., Watson, L. M. 2004. How is your MPA Doing? A Guidebook of Natural and Social Indicators for Evaluating Marine Protected Area Management Effectiveness. IUCN Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
Chapter 3 (pages 30 – 35) of this handbook contains a description of managing MPA data once it has been collected. It discusses the various steps of data coding, storage, entry and runs through the various types of exploratory statistics that are possible. There are brief descriptions of further analysis options. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the importance of ascertaining internal and external evaluation of results.
In 2017, following growing public concerns about saltwater crocodile attacks on people, the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM), the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) and WorldFish conducted a nationwide survey to collect detailed information on the extent and characteristics of human-crocodile conflicts. This report summarizes the main findings of the survey. The following sections provide information on the ecology of the species and its cultural significance in Solomon Islands, details on the survey methods, and the main results. In the conclusion, several practical recommendations have been listed for the national government.
Improving Local Capacity for Coral Reef Monitoring Data Interpretation. A Guidebook with Step-by-Step Exercises Using Regional Datasets to Improve Local Capacity for Data Interpretation.
Houk, P. 2010. Improving Local Capacity for Coral Reef Monitoring Data Interpretation. A Guidebook with Step-by-Step Exercises Using Regional Datasets to Improve Local Capacity for Data Interpretation. Pacific Marine Resources Institute, Saipan, FSM. 151pp.
This comprehensive guidebook uses Microsoft Excel, Access, PRIMER-E, and Sigma Plot software programmes and runs through step-by-step examples with sample data sets provided. The guidebook has accompanying data sets and can be used for practise and training on data analysis and interpretation.
Hodgson, G., Hill, J., Kiene, W., Maun, L., Mihaly, J., Liebeler, J., Shuman, C. and Torres, R. 2006. Instruction Manual. A Guide to Reef Check Monitoring . Reef Check Foundation, Pacific Palisades, California, USA
Reef Check provides excel spread sheets with built in macros for carrying out preliminary data analysis. Pages 31-36 of their manual have illustrated instructions for how to correctly complete the spreadsheets with explanations of the output data.
There is also a chapter discussing data analysis that explains how to interpret the results including the meanings of the standard error and the standard deviation.
Integrating Three-Dimensional Benthic Habitat Characterization Techniques into Ecological Monitoring of Coral Reefs
Long-term ecological monitoring of reef fish populations often requires the simultaneous collection of data on benthic habitats in order to account for the effects of these variables on fish assemblage structure. Here, we described an approach to benthic surveys that uses photogrammetric techniques to facilitate the extraction of quantitative metrics for characterization of benthic habitats from the resulting three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction of coral reefs.
Large-scale, multidirectional larval connectivity among coral reef fish populations in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
Larval dispersal is the key process by which populations of most marine fishes and invertebrates are connected and replenished. Advances in larval tagging and genetics have enhanced our capacity to track larval dispersal, assess scales of population connectivity, and quantify larval exchange among no-take marine reserves and fished areas. Recent studies have found that reserves can be a significant source of recruits for populations up to 40 km away, but the scale and direction of larval connectivity across larger seascapes remain unknown.
Low energy expenditure and resting behaviour of humpback whale mother-calf pairs highlights conservation importance of sheltered breeding areas
Understanding the behaviour of humpback whale mother-calf pairs and the acoustic environment on their breeding grounds is fundamental to assessing the biological and ecological requirements needed to ensure a successful migration and survival of calves. Therefore, on a breeding/resting ground, Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia, we used animal-borne DTAGs to quantify the fne-scale behaviour and energetic expenditure of humpback whale mothers and calves, while sound recorders measured the acoustic environment.
Biodiversity is suffering dramatic declines across the globe, threatening the ability of ecosystems to provide the services on which humanity depends. Mainstreaming biodiversity into the plans, strategies and policies of different economic sectors is key to reversing these declines. The importance of this mainstreaming is recognized by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its Aichi targets. Individual countries can implement the goals of the CBD through their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs), which aim to, inter alia, support the mainstreaming of biodiversity into the policies of key economic sectors, such as agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
Managing the middle: A shift in conservation priorities based on the global human modification gradient
An increasing number of international initiatives aim to reconcile development with conservation. Crucial to successful implementation of these initiatives is a comprehensive understanding of the current ecological condition of landscapes and their spatial distributions. Here, we provide a cumulative measure of human modification of terrestrial lands based on modeling the physical extents of 13 anthropogenic stressors and their estimated impacts using spatially explicit global datasets with a median year of 2016. We quantified the degree of land modification and the amount and spatial configuration of low modified lands (i.e., natural areas relatively free from human alteration) across all ecoregions and biomes.
With marine biodiversity declining globally at accelerating rates, maximising the effectiveness of conservation has become a key goal for local, national and international regulators. Marine protected areas (MPAs) have been widely advocated for conserving and managing marine biodiversity yet, despite extensive research, their benefits for conserving non-target species and wider ecosystem functions remain unclear. Here, we demonstrate that MPAs can increase the resilience of coral reef communities to natural disturbances, including coral bleaching, coral diseases, Acanthaster planci outbreaks and storms.
Wilkinson, C., Hill, J. 2004. Methods for Ecological Monitoring of Coral Reefs. A Resource for Managers. Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Australia and Reef Check, Los Angeles, USA. 117pp.
There is a section on data handling and storage of results on page 14 of this resource. It covers data storage, analysis and reporting. There is also a discussion of the importance in involving the public in the dissemination of the results which can be a key factor in determining the success of protected areas.
Monitoring Coral Reef Marine Protected Areas: Version 1. A Practical Guide on how Monitoring can Support Effective Management of MPAs
Wilkinson,C., Green, A., Almany, J., Dionne, S. 2003. Monitoring Coral Reef Marine Protected Areas: Version 1. A Practical Guide on how Monitoring can Support Effective Management of MPAs . Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Australia and the IUCN Marine Program, Gland, Switzerland.
Chapter 8 (Page 49) of this guide on how to carry out effective monitoring of MPAs considers data storage, analysis, accessibility and reporting. There is a description of the 8 critical steps for data management which contain some useful advice for practitioners to consider prior to carrying out data collection.
Observations of a rapid decline in invasive macroalgal cover linked to green turtle grazing in a Hawaiian marine reserve*
The persistent, non-native invasive alga Gracilaria salicornia has dominated the protected waters surrounding Moku o Loʻe, Kāneʻohe Bay since its introduction in 1978; however, a sudden decline in abundance (75%) occurred within a 30-day survey period. The consisent environmental conditions during the survey period, dominance of G. salicornia despite the presence of abundant herbivorous fish populations, and multiple observations of physical grazing by the green turtle, Chelonia mydas, on G. salicornia support our conclusion that C. mydas was the primary driver of the rapid decline of a persistent invasive macroalgae within a Hawaiian marine reserve.
The ocean has been experiencing substantial changes in marine physics, chemistry and biology including ocean acidification, rising seawater temperature, ocean deoxygenation and sea level rise. These four, often interacting factors, are expected to increase over the coming decades depending on the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It is imperative that international decision-makers and stakeholders understand the enormous role the ocean plays in sustaining life on Earth, and the consequences of a high CO2 world for the ocean and society.
Connectivity of protected areas (PAs) is crucial for meeting their conservation goals. We provide the first global evaluation of countries' progress towards Aichi Target 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity that is to have at least 17% of the land covered by well-connected PA systems by 2020. We quantify how well the terrestrial PA systems of countries are designed to promote connectivity, using the Protected Connected (ProtConn) indicator. We refine ProtConn to focus on the part of PA connectivity that is in the power of a country to influence, i.e. not penalizing countries for PA isolation due to the sea and to foreign lands.
Protected areas (PAs) are the main instrument for biodiversity conservation, which has triggered the development of numerous indicators and assessments on their coverage, performance and efficiency. The connectivity of the PA networks at a global scale has however been much less explored; previous studies have either focused on particular regions of the world or have only considered some types of PAs.
Report On The 2016 Funafuti Community-Based Ridge-To-Reef (R2R) - Rapid Biodiversity Assessment of the Conservation Status of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (BES) In Tuvalu
This report presents the results of the 2016 Funafuti Community-Based Ridge-to-Reef (R2R) Rapid Biodiversity Assessment (BIORAP) of biodiversity and ecosystem services (BES), hereafter referred to as the BIORAP. In this context the Tuvaluan translation for BES is “meaola mo vaega mea aoga kia tatou i te fenua mo te tai” (literally “living things and those things that are useful to us from our land and sea. This reflects the central theme of the Tuvalu R2R Project of “Connecting People & Ecosystems to Sustain Livelihoods” and reflects the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) (2005) definition of: “the benefits people obtain from ecosystems (MEA 2005).
This report of 220 pages written by nearly 90 authors clearly presents the summation of an enormous amount of data and information on 19 of the 23 nations and states of the Pacific and outlines both the problems and stresses on these thousands of reefs, and the potential that these reefs will prove to be the reservoir of coral reefs for the world in the immediate future with the largest threat being global climate change. Although the following chapters illustrate that coral reefs in the wider Pacific are facing many threats and have shown significant losses of coral reef structure, this report clearly demonstrates that Pacific reefs without much doubt contain the best coral reefs systems in the world and should remain in that position for the immediate decades to come.
This report updates the 1992 State of Environment report with the latest findings from the Marshall Islands. Environmental reporting is defined as a requirement for RMI in the ‘Office of Environmental Planning and Policy Coordination (OEPPC) Act 2003’. The present report results from a concerted effort of all national stakeholders with OEPPC being the lead agency working with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in gathering information from national stakeholders to compile this report. I would like to use this opportunity to thank all the parties involved for their commitment and hard work in creating this document and a special komol tata to SPREP for their continued support to the Marshall Islands.
The great majority of marine protected areas (MPAs) fail to meet their management objectives. So MPAs can be effective conservation tools, we recommend two paradigm shifts, the first related to how they are located and the second related to how they are managed. MPAs are unlikely to be effective if they are located in areas that are subject to numerous, and often uncontrollable, external stressors from atmospheric, terrestrial, and oceanic sources, all of which can degrade the environment and compromise protection. MPA effectiveness is also limited by low institutional and community capacity for management and inappropriate size with respect to ecological needs.
Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted 20 targets, known as the Aichi Targets, to benchmark progress towards protecting biodiversity. These targets include Target 11 relating to Marine Protected Area coverage and the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) is the accepted international database for tracking national commitments to this target. However, measuring national progress towards conservation targets relies on sound data. This paper highlights the large-scale misrepresentation, by up to two orders of magnitude, of national marine protected area coverage from two Pacific Island nations in multiple online databases and subsequent reports, including conclusions regarding achievements of Aichi 11 commitments.
The 2018 UN List provides up-to-date information on marine and terrestrial protected areas globally, and identifies those protected areas that have been the subject of management effectiveness evaluations. Such evaluations provide a valuable assessment of the management performance of these areas: they help identify threats to the protected areas and inform mitigating actions; they help in identifying gaps in capacity, for example insufficient technical or financial resources; and they can identify where management actions are successful at achieving conservation outcomes and thus should be maintained.
This report was a collaboration Science and Conservation of Fish Aggregations, University of Hong Kong, Fiji Ministry of Fisheries, Wildlife Conservation Society, and the University of British Columbia (Canada).We conducted a seafood VCA for the coral reef grouper (Epinephelidae) fishery in Fiji with the goal of understanding the distribution of value gained from grouper along the trade chain, from fisher to consumer. Our aim was to use the study outcomes to inform policy makers on how higher economic values and benefits can be derived from grouper for value chain actors, particularly fishers in Fiji. We highlight the overall value of grouper in Fiji’s coastal fishery and the importance of maintaining healthy populations into the future.
The term “green growth” and its sister concepts, “blue‐ green growth,” the “green economy,” and the “blue‐ green economy,” have gained considerable traction in the Pacific island region in a short space of time. Pacific island governments, regional organisations, and development agencies all use the terms, which originate outside of the Pacific. What (and who) has driven the adoption of green growth terminology within the region? How has its usage in the region mirrored international usage? This paper presents findings from research on the vernacularisation of green growth terminology in Fiji and Vanuatu. We find a contested policy space, where Pacific actors deploy competing meanings of green growth terms in ways that both reflect their worldviews and support their agendas.
“In a tree by the brook, there’s a songbird who sings”: Woodlands in an agricultural matrix maintain functionality of a wintering bird community
The agricultural matrix has increasingly been recognized for its potential to supplement Protected Areas (PAs) in biodiversity conservation. This potential is highly contextual, depending on composition and spatial configuration of matrix elements and their mechanistic relationship with biological communities. We investigate the effects of local vegetation structure, and proximity to a PA on the site-use of different guilds in a wintering bird community within the PA, and in wooded land-use types in the surrounding matrix. We used occupancy models to estimate covariate–guild relationships and predict site-use. We also compared species richness (estimated through capture–recapture models) and species naïve site-use between the PA and the matrix to evaluate taxonomic changes.
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