Benefits beyond biomass: Biophysical feedbacks within Marine Protected Areas may promote ecosystem resilience in the face of global climate change

Start/End: December, 2018 to December, 2021

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a critical tool for conservation and management of economically, socially, and ecologically valuable species in California. The positive effects of MPAs on the biodiversity and abundance of targeted (fished) species are well-described.

The objective of this research is to consider whether MPAs can also promote ecosystem resilience in the face of global climate change. Many commercially important species are at risk due to changing ocean conditions including acidification and hypoxia. This project will examine the potential for MPAs to serve as climate change refuges to economically important species via persistence of kelp forests that mediate the physical and chemical environment.

By assessing these additional ecosystem services provided by MPAs, the outcomes of this research can help guide evaluation and adaptive management of California’s MPAs, and help California prepare for and reduce harmful impacts of climate change on ecosystems and the services they provide to California’s residents and economy.

Co-principal Investigators