Adaptive Management of Marine Protected Areas: Predicting Responses to MPA Implementation for Comparison to Monitoring Data

Start/End: February, 2010 to January, 2014

In this project, scientists are developing computer models to help interpret monitoring data from the Central Coast MPA study region. The focus is on how to interpret estimates of fish abundances, sizes and biomasses for key species such as blue rockfish, black rockfish, lingcod and cabezon. The spatial population models are incorporating what is known about larval dispersal, adult movement patterns and key species’ interactions to more fully understand how fish populations respond to the MPAs, and how other factors, such as fishery regulations outside the MPAs, affect this response. Model output will provide insights into how to interpret the monitoring data that has been gathered, and continues to be gathered, for the region. Such information is critical for adaptively managing the state’s network of MPAs and meeting their intended conservation goals. In work to date, scientists have reported the effects of larval dispersal distances, adult home-range sizes, and exploitation intensities on optimal monitoring protocols (i.e., when and where to sample). They have also outlined species dispersal distances and species home range sizes that are expected to be protected by the Central Coast MPAs (based on the reserves’ sizes and locations). Another manuscript describes the expected transient responses of populations to the MPAs, and their dependences on fishing mortality rates, ages of maturity, natural mortality rates and larval connectivity.

Co-principal Investigators