Presentation Title

Are Marine Protected Areas successfully preserving community level marine biodiversity?

Project Collaborators

Laura May-Collado (University of Vermont), Jose David Palacios (Fundacion Keto), Juan Jose Alvarado (Department of Biology, University of Costa Rica), Betzi Perez (Fundacion Panacetacea), Jose Julioo Casas (Ministerio del Ambiente, Panama)

Abstract

In response to the current biodiversity crisis, a global effort to protect biodiversity in the oceans has resulted in the establishment of many new Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s). MPAs are designed to slow devastation of critical ecosystems that are at high risk due to rapidly changing marine climate conditions. However, in most cases after an MPA is established, there is little follow up to determine if these efforts translate into long-term successful preservation of biodiversity. In this study, we used sound recorded from passive acoustic recorders as a cue for biodiversity. We created a presence-absence matrix of boats and whales, and looked at the distribution of acoustic events by time and frequency bins using RFCxArbimon soundscape tools. We expected to see greater acoustic diversity and whale activity within MPAs than in the non-protected area. Determining if MPA’s are fulfilling or not their goal in protecting marine biodiversity is of paramount importance. Our study aims to provide valuable ecological information to MPAs to improve current protection measures.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Dr. Laura May-Collado

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Environmental Sciences

Primary Research Category

Biological Sciences

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Are Marine Protected Areas successfully preserving community level marine biodiversity?

In response to the current biodiversity crisis, a global effort to protect biodiversity in the oceans has resulted in the establishment of many new Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s). MPAs are designed to slow devastation of critical ecosystems that are at high risk due to rapidly changing marine climate conditions. However, in most cases after an MPA is established, there is little follow up to determine if these efforts translate into long-term successful preservation of biodiversity. In this study, we used sound recorded from passive acoustic recorders as a cue for biodiversity. We created a presence-absence matrix of boats and whales, and looked at the distribution of acoustic events by time and frequency bins using RFCxArbimon soundscape tools. We expected to see greater acoustic diversity and whale activity within MPAs than in the non-protected area. Determining if MPA’s are fulfilling or not their goal in protecting marine biodiversity is of paramount importance. Our study aims to provide valuable ecological information to MPAs to improve current protection measures.