Integrating benthic habitat mapping and seascape ecology into marine conservation prioritization

Proudfoot, Beatrice (2019) Integrating benthic habitat mapping and seascape ecology into marine conservation prioritization. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Advances in seafloor mapping have allowed for the production of fine-scale seafloor landscape (i.e., benthoscape) maps that are analogous to terrestrial land cover maps, providing the foundation for assessing the spatial configuration of seafloor habitat patches. While many species rely on large, well-connected patches for foraging and migration, variability in patch size and configuration can be difficult to incorporate into Marine Protected Area (MPA) design. In this thesis, I developed a novel method that considers the spatial arrangement of benthic habitat patches in MPA design. I applied the approach to the Eastport MPA and surrounding region in Newfoundland, Canada by first quantifying the composition and configuration of the benthoscape using multibeam echosounder, seafloor video surveys, and patch size and connectivity metrics. Using a reserve design algorithm, I then compared outputs that included and excluded the prioritization of benthoscape connectivity. The approach presented in this thesis results in the preferential selection of large patches within the home-range of a given species, which can be important for reducing fragmentation in conservation prioritization solutions and better supporting species and ecological processes. This approach offers potential benefits for the conservation of coastal and marine regions by increasing our understanding of how we can incorporate broad scale patterns into on-the-ground conservation decision making.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 13768
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references.
Keywords: seabed mapping, multibeam sonar, marine protected area, Newman Sound, Marxan, marine conservation
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Geography
Date: May 2019
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Spatial ecology--Newfoundland and Labrador; Benthos--Newfoundland and Labrador.

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