Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Advancing marine reserve science : from field experiments to marine conservation planning tools

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  • This dissertation focuses on science relevant to the design and implementation of marine reserves. The chapters explore a range of topics related to among-site variation in population, community, and ecosystem dynamics. My results demonstrate the value and feasibility of integrating this knowledge into more comprehensive conservation and management approaches. While the threats facing the oceans are serious, we in the scientific community have considerable information and tools to contribute to the development and implementation of solutions. In Chapter 2, I report on the effects of conspecific density on multiple traits of the intertidal barnacle Balanus glandula. The primary effects of increased density were enhanced survival and higher reproductive rates. My results provide a strategy for evaluating the relative importance of positive vs. negative intraspecific interactions when implementing reserves. In Chapter 3, my co-authors and I investigated how variation in nearshore primary productivity influenced survival, growth, and reproduction in B. glandula. We found strong evidence for bottom-up (i.e. productivity) forcing of barnacle population dynamics. One site produced substantially more larvae than the others, demonstrating the importance of among-site variability. Our findings advance understanding of bottom-up influences on marine populations, and demonstrate the value of embedding reserves within a network. In Chapter 4, my co-authors and I used benthic habitat data from the Florida Keys to show how a computer-based siting tool could be used to help design reserve networks. We found that many different combinations of sites produced satisfactory networks, and highlighted areas as potential conservation priorities. Our work was the first marine application of this tool and provided a starting point for applications in California and Australia. In Chapter 5, I report on a synthesis of marine conservation planning cases globally. I found that the majority occurred in North and Central America, were based on biogeographic boundaries, and that biodiversity conservation was the primary objective. One of the most striking findings was the paucity of well-documented cases. My results suggested that planners consider knowledge of marine populations, communities, and ecosystems important when identifying priorities, but that they do not have clear guidelines for how to integrate this information appropriately.
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