Skip to main content

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.

262 Voyages Beneath the Sea: a global assessment of macro- and megafaunal biodiversity and research effort at deep-sea hydrothermal vents

For over 40 years, hydrothermal vents and the communities that thrive on them have been a source of profound discovery for deep-sea ecologists. These ecosystems are found throughout the world on active plate margins as well as other geologically active features.

A global-level assessment of the effectiveness of protected areas at resisting anthropogenic pressures

One-sixth of the global terrestrial surface now falls within protected areas (PAs), making it essential to understand how far they mitigate the increasing pressures on nature which characterize the Anthropocene.

A spatial overview of the global importance of Indigenous lands for conservation

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.

Adaptive Management

U.S. Department of the Interior.  2009.  Adaptive Management:  The U.S. Department of the Interior Technical Guide.

Biological effects 26 years after simulated deep-sea mining

The potential for imminent abyssal polymetallic nodule exploitation has raised considerable scientifc attention.

Changing geo‐ecological functions of coral reefs in the Anthropocene

The ecology of many coral reefs has changed markedly over recent decades in response to various combinations of local and global stressors.

Climate change threatens New Guinea’s biocultural heritage

New Guinea is the most biologically and linguistically diverse tropical island on Earth, yet the potential impacts of climate change on its biocultural heritage remain unknown.

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.

Coastal proximity of populations in 22 Pacific Island Countries and Territories

The coastal zones of Small Island States are hotspots of human habitation and economic endeavour. In the Pacific region, as elsewhere, there are large gaps in understandings of the exposure and vulnerability of people in coastal zones.

Comparative assessment of pelagic sampling methods used in marine monitoring

The aim of the present report is to provide a comparative assessment of commonly used pelagic sampling methods.

Compendium of guidance for capturing, managing and using biodiversity-related data and information

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.

Cook Islands Global Reef Expedition - Final Report

In April 2011, the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation (KSLOF) embarked on the Global Reef Expedition (GRE)- the largest coral reef survey and mapping expedition in history. The GRE was a rigorous five-year scientific mission to study coral reefs around the world.

Coral reef ecosystem services in the Anthropocene

Coral reefs underpin a range of ecosystem goods and services that contribute to the well‐being of millions of people. However, tropical coral reefs in the Anthropocene are likely to be functionally different from reefs in the past.

CoReMo Coral Reef Monitoring Data Entry System 2 v3.6.1

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

Coronavirus outbreak is a symptom of Gaia's sickness

It was New Year's Eve when Chinese authorities alerted WHO that several cases of an unusual pneumonia appeared in Wuhan.

COVID19 Impacts on Fishing and Coastal Communities:Update #1 - Fiji

The global COVID-19 (or coronavirus) pandemic is having a major impact across the globe and on all segments of the population.

COVID19 Impacts on Fishing and Coastal Communities:Update #2 - Russell Islands, Solomon Islands

The pandemic caused by the virus, COVID-19 has had wide-ranging effects on coastal and island communities throughout the South Pacific.

COVID19 Impacts on Fishing and Coastal Communities:Update #3 Federated States of Micronesia

The pandemic caused by COVID-19 has had far reaching effects across the Pacific, including isolated island nations like the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), population 112,000.

COVID19 Impacts on Fishing and Coastal Communities:Update #4 Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea (PNG), the largest of the Pacific island nations (population 8.9 million), has not been spared from the COVID-19 pandemic. The government declared a State of Emergency in March, closing off international borders and suspending domestic air travel.

Data-driven approach for highlighting priority areas for protection in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction

One of the aims of the United Nations (UN) negotiations on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) is to develop a legal process for the establishment of area-based management tools, including marine protected areas, in ABNJ.

Deep reefs of the Great Barrier Reef offer limited thermal refuge during mass coral bleaching

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.

DEEP-SEA DILEMMA

The deep sea — usually defined as the realm below 200 metres — is a world of extremes. Temperatures near the sea bed in many places hover near 0 °C, there is next to no light, and pressures can exceed 1,000 bars, equivalent to having a couple of elephants standing on your big toe.

Designing Field Studies for Biodiversity Conservation

Feinsinger, P.  2001.  Designing Field Studies for Biodiversity Conservation. Island Press.

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.

Economic value of protected areas via visitor mental health

We evaluate methods to calculate the economic value of protected areas derived from the improved mental health of visitors. A conservative global estimate using quality-adjusted life years, a standard measure in health economics, is US$6 trillion p.a.

Field Note - Discovery of a recovering climax Acropora community in Kanton Lagoon in the remote Phoenix Islands Protected Area

An expedition in 2002 to the Phoenix Islands Protected Area in the Republic of Kiribati documented an extensive and delicate community of staghorn and tabular Acropora colonies...

Field Note - Silent killer: black reefs in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area

The Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) is in a naturally ironpoor region in the equatorial central Pacific.

FISHERIES – Effects of marine protected areas on local fisheries: evidence from empirical studies

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.

French Polynesia Global Coral Reef - Final Report

The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation has released their findings from the largest coral reef survey and mapping expedition ever conducted in French Polynesia.

Functional diversity of marine megafauna in the Anthropocene

Marine megafauna, the largest animals in the oceans, serve key roles in ecosystem functioning. Yet, one-third of these animals are at risk of extinction.

Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 - Main Report

Forests are at the heart of the 2030 Agenda. They are a source of food, medicines and biofuel for more than 1 billion people. They protect soils and water, host more than three quarters of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, and help tackle climate change.

Global Futures: Assessing the global economic impacts of environmental change to support policy-making

This report summarises the first results of the Global Futures initiative – a partnership between WWF, the Global Trade Analysis Project and the Natural Capital Project – which has developed an innovative new model to calculate the impacts of nature’s decline on the world’s economies, trade and i

Global Human Footprint on the Linkage between Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning in Reef Fishes

Difficulties in scaling up theoretical and experimental results have raised controversy over the consequences of biodiversity loss for the functioning of natural ecosystems.

Global modeling of nature’s contributions to people

The magnitude and pace of global change demand rapid assessment of nature and its contributions to people. We present a fine-scale global modeling of current status and future scenarios for several contributions: water quality regulation, coastal risk reduction, and crop pollination.

Global Reef Expedition: Solomon Islands Final Report

On the Global Reef Expedition—one of the largest coral reef studies in history—the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation conducted research in the Solomon Islands to map and characterize shallow marine habitats and assess the status of coral reef benthic and fish communities.

Global trends in protected area connectivity from 2010 to 2018

Connectivity of protected areas (PAs) is needed to ensure the long-term persistence of biodiversity and ecosystem service delivery. The Convention on Biological Diversity agreed in 2010 to have 17% of land covered by wellconnected PA systems by 2020 (Aichi Target 11).

Gravity of human impacts mediates coral reef conservation gains

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 th

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.

Heat-evolved microalgal symbionts increase coral bleaching tolerance

Coral reefs worldwide are suffering mass mortalities from marine heat waves. With the aim of enhancing coral bleaching tolerance, we evolved 10 clonal strains of a common coral microalgal endosymbiont at elevated temperatures (31°C) for 4 years in the laboratory.

How is your MPA Doing?

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.

How much of a market is involved in a biodiversity offset? A typology of biodiversity offset policies

Biodiversity offsets (BO) are increasingly promoted and adopted by governments and companies worldwide as a policy instrument to compensate for biodiversity losses from infrastructure development projects. To provide a framing for understanding the empirical diversity of BO policy designs, we pre

Human-crocodile conflict in Solomon Islands

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 i

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.

In Pursuit of Knowledge: Addressing Barriers to Effective Conservation Evaluation

Evaluation, the process of assessing the effectiveness of programs and activities, has gained increasing attention in the conservation sector as programs seek to account for investments, measure their impacts, and adapt interventions to improve future outcomes.

Instruction Manual. A Guide to Reef Check Monitoring

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

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.

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.

Links between ecological integrity, emerging infectious diseases and other aspects of human health - an overview of the literature

The devastating emergence of the virus causing COVID-19 has led to increased interest in the factors that result in pandemics and other disease outbreaks.

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.

Related Pages

No related pages