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This project will compare the structure and dynamics of central and southern Californian nearshore ecosystems by parameterizing and analyzing the performance of three approaches for modeling these areas. The goals are to develop analytical tools to facilitate ecosystem-based decision making and management, and to forecast how marine reserves and the impending re-invasion of sea otters to southern Californian waters will affect the region's fisheries. The investigators will synthesize and leverage an array of preexisting data from spatially-extensive, long-term monitoring efforts. Along with a time series on the range, density, and feeding habits of sea otters, community data from a network of MPAs and reference sites of known age will provide the large-scale observational experiments needed to disentangle the effects of sea otters and MPAs on the structure and dynamics of California's nearshore ecosystems and their fisheries. The results will be incorporated into three different modeling approaches.
By employing multiple modeling approaches, one can compare predictions for how the effects of MPAs and the impending re-invasion of sea otters will affect the productivity, dynamics, and resilience of these important communities. This work will result in (1) a set of analytical tools and effective and transferable ecosystem-based indicators to assess the status, thresholds and resiliency of nearshore temperate reef ecosystems; and (2) a collection of ecosystem-based predictions of short- and long-term community dynamics, including resiliency to environmental change and to commercially and recreationally valued kelp forest fisheries.
Affiliated Program: PISCO
Biological and Chemical Oceanography Data Management Office.
Funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation