Integrative Assessment of Baseline Ecological and Socioeconomic Conditions and Initial Changes within the South Coast MPA Region

Start/End: January, 2012 to June, 2015

Management of natural resources to meet a wide array of goals – ranging from conservation of biodiversity to enhancing economic yields of harvested species – is a challenging task and requires a broad vision of humans as integral parts of natural ecosystems. The 1999 California Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) led to the establishment of a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) across the state. The MLPA requires monitoring to measure MPA performance relative to the goals of the Act and inform adaptive management. Meeting the requirements of the MLPA means taking an ecosystems approach to monitoring that encompasses species, populations, habitats and humans. Although many marine habitats have been extensively studied in southern California (e.g. kelp forest, rocky intertidal), studies of how these habitats are linked via species (e.g. birds, fish) that utilize multiple habitats within the ecosystem are rare. California’s South Coast region has the highest concentration of MPAs along the entire CA coast, encompassing both mainland and island coastal regions, for which a large body of both ecosystem monitoring data and contextual data exist (e.g. oceanographic and water quality data, remotely sensed data, habitat maps). However, many of these datasets have yet to be analyzed outside of the context for which they were originally created or combined into synthetic measures of ecosystem health. This project seeks to coordinate and integrate the individual projects making up the South Coast Baseline MPA program to address ecosystem level questions. Through webinars and workshops, the PIs have worked with the South coast baseline group to produce integrative products including datasets and scientific papers. A special issue of integrative papers is expected in 2015.

  • Principal Investigators

    University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)

Co-principal Investigators