Rapid assessment of risks to a mobile marine mammal in an ecosystem-scale marine protected area

Grech, A., and Marsh, H. (2008) Rapid assessment of risks to a mobile marine mammal in an ecosystem-scale marine protected area. Conservation Biology, 22 (3). pp. 711-720.

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Abstract

Ecosystem-scale networks of marine protected areas (MPAs) are important conservation tools, but their effectiveness is difficult to quantify in a time frame appropriate to species conservation because of uncertainties in the data available. The dugong (Dugong dugon) is a mobile marine species that occurs in shallow inshore waters of an ecosystem-scale network of MPAs (the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area [GBRWHA]). We developed a rapid approach to assess risk to dugongs in the region and evaluate options to ameliorate that risk. We used expert opinion and a Delphi technique to identify and rank 5 human factors with the potential to adversely affect dugongs and their sea grass habitats: netting, indigenous hunting, trawling, vessel traffic, and poor-quality terrestrial runoff. We then quantified and compared the distribution of these factors with a spatially explicit model of dugong distribution. We estimated that approximately 96% of habitat of high conservation value for dugongs in the GBRWHA is at low risk from human activities. Using a sensitivity analysis, we found that to decrease risk, commercial netting or indigenous hunting had to be reduced in remote areas and the effects of vessel traffic, terrestrial runoff, and commercial netting had to be reduced in urban areas. This approach enabled us to compare and rank risks so as to identify the most severe risks and locate specific sites that require further management attention.

Item ID: 6124
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: Dugong dugon; Delphi technique; fishing effects; Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area; habitant conservation value; marine protected area; rapid risk assessment; spatial risk assessment
ISSN: 1523-1739
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2010 05:16
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 15
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