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Symes W.S.,National University of Singapore | Rao M.,National University of Singapore | Rao M.,Wildlife Conservation Society | Mascia M.B.,Moore Center for Science and Oceans | Carrasco L.R.,National University of Singapore
Global Change Biology | Year: 2016

Protected areas (PAs) are an essential tool for the conservation of biodiversity globally. Previous studies have focussed on the effectiveness of PAs and the design of optimal PA networks. However, not all PAs remain intact permanently; many PAs undergo downgrading, downsizing and/or degazettement (PADDD), a fact largely ignored until recently. The drivers of enacted PADDD events and the factors influencing its spatial occurrence are poorly understood, potentially undermining the efficacy of PAs and PA networks. Here we examine the spatial relationship between PADDD and economic, demographic and structural variables, using a 110-year data set of 342 enacted PADDD events across 44 countries in the tropics and subtropics. We find that the probability of an enacted PADDD event increases with the size of the PA and through a synergistic interaction between PA size and local population densities. Our results are robust to the under-reporting of enacted PADDD events that occur among smaller PAs and in regions with lower population density. We find an economic motive for PADDD events, given that the opportunity costs associated with larger PAs are higher, on average, than smaller PAs. Our findings suggest a need for conservation practitioners to better consider PA characteristics, as well as the social, economic and political context in which PAs are situated, to aid the creation of more efficient and sustainable PA networks. In particular, the dynamics of enacted PADDD events highlight the need to explicitly consider PA robustness as a core component of systematic conservation planning for PA networks. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Papacostas K.J.,Temple University | Papacostas K.J.,Moore Center for Science and Oceans | Freestone A.L.,Temple University | Freestone A.L.,Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Global Ecology and Biogeography | Year: 2016

Aim: Niche breadth has long been hypothesized to decrease at low latitudes and contribute to global patterns of species diversity. Range size, phylogenetic relatedness and body size also have hypothesized relationships with both latitude and niche breadth, which may further affect niche breadth patterns. Existing terrestrial data are inconclusive and few data exist on latitudinal gradients in niche breadth in the marine realm. We tested the latitude-niche breadth relationship in a marine system while exploring the correlations of both variables with range size, and accounting for relatedness and body size. Location: Global. Methods: We compiled a global dataset on the dietary niche breadth of 39 brachyuran crab species from existing studies and additional analyses on species collected in Connecticut and Florida, USA and Bocas del Toro, Panama. Estimates of latitude, range size, clade and body size were obtained for each species. We then tested for correlations among focal variables and examined the strength of their relationships with diet breadth. Results: Latitude was the strongest predictor of niche breadth in temperate species, and the latitude-niche breadth relationship was stronger in larger-bodied species. The strongest predictor of the niche breadth of tropical species was clade, with the newest clade having the narrowest diet. Niche breadth was related to range size for both temperate and tropical species. Tropical species had larger ranges on average than temperate species. Main conclusions: We found an interesting division in the niche breadth relationships of temperate and tropical species; diets of temperate species were positively correlated with latitude, range size and body size, and diets of tropical species were related to range size and clade. Therefore, only temperate species demonstrated the predicted positive relationship between niche breadth and latitude, while evolutionary history was a stronger predictor of niche breadth in tropical species. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Barbier E.B.,University of Wyoming | Tesfaw A.,Moore Center for Science and Oceans
Ecological Economics | Year: 2015

We analyze how governance may influence competing land uses for forests, and thus the occurrence of forest transitions, across different low and middle-income countries. We develop a model of competing land uses that allows for governance to impact the risk of future versus current agricultural and forested land allocations. The resulting hypothesis on the relationship between governance and the likelihood of a forest transition is then tested using cross-country data. The empirical analysis offers strong support for the competing land use framework, and indicates that rule of law, forest policy and regulatory quality influence forest transitions. These findings inform not only the ongoing debate on forest transitions but also policy options for managing such transitions in developing economies. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.

Stewart Lowndes J.S.,National Center for Ecological Analysis And Synthesis | Pacheco E.J.,Moore Center for Science and Oceans | Best B.D.,Duke University | Scarborough C.,National Center for Ecological Analysis And Synthesis | And 5 more authors.
PeerJ | Year: 2015

Marine policy is increasingly calling for maintaining or restoring healthy oceans while human activities continue to intensify. Thus, successful prioritization and management of competing objectives requires a comprehensive assessment of the current state of the ocean. Unfortunately, assessment frameworks to define and quantify current ocean state are often site-specific, limited to a few ocean components, and difficult to reproduce in different geographies or even through time, limiting spatial or temporal comparisons as well as the potential for shared learning. Ideally, frameworks should be tailorable to accommodate use in disparate locations and contexts, removing the need to develop frameworks de novo and allowing efforts to focus on the assessments themselves to advise action. Here, we present some of our experiences using the Ocean Health Index (OHI) framework, a tailorable and repeatable approach that measures health of coupled human-ocean ecosystems in different contexts by accommodating differences in local environmental characteristics, cultural priorities, and information availability and quality. Since its development in 2012, eleven assessments using the OHI framework have been completed at global, national, and regional scales, four of which have been led by independent academic or government groups.We have found the following to be best practices for conducting assessments: Incorporate key characteristics and priorities into the assessment framework design before gathering information; Strategically define spatial boundaries to balance information availability and decision-making scales; Maintain the key characteristics and priorities of the assessment framework regardless of information limitations; and Document and share the assessment process, methods, and tools. These best practices are relevant to most ecosystem assessment processes, but also provide tangible guidance for assessments using the OHI framework. These recommendations also promote transparency around which decisions were made and why, reproducibility through access to detailed methods and computational code, repeatability via the ability to modify methods and computational code, and ease of communication to wide audiences, all of which are critical for any robust assessment process. © 2015 Lowndes et al.

McKinnon M.C.,Moore Center for Science and Oceans | Mascia M.B.,Moore Center for Science and Oceans | Yang W.,Moore Center for Science and Oceans | Turner W.R.,Moore Center for Science and Oceans | Bonham C.,Moore Center for Science and Oceans
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2015

The rising prominence of more rigorous approaches to measuring conservation outcomes has included greater adoption of impact evaluation by conservation non-governmental organizations (CNGOs).Within the scientific literature, however, little consideration has been given to the unique and specific roles of CNGOs in advancing impact evaluation. We explore these issues in the context of one CNGO—Conservation International (CI)—and its experiences producing, using and funding impact evaluations over the past decade. We examine the contributions of impact evaluation to CI’s mission at three different stages of CI’s strategy: innovation, demonstration and amplification. Furthermore, we review incentives and barriers encountered by CI in its 10+ years’ experience in impact evaluation. More coordinated and strategic use of impact evaluation by CNGOs would facilitate learning and promote accountability across the conservation community. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

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