THE APPLICATION OF PELAGIC BIOREGIONALISATION TO MARINE CONSERVATION PLANNING IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
Mandy Lombard, Erwann Lagabrielle, Tamsyn-Claire Livingstone, Jean Harris, Kerry Sink and Hedley Grantham
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Department of Botany, 2University of Cape Town, Department of Biological Sciences, University of La Réunion, Institute for Research and Development, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), University of Queensland, School of Integrative Biology

 

Abstract
Describing, maintaining and conserving the ecological integrity of pelagic marine ecosystems, while ensuring optimal and sustainable utilization of pelagic resources, has been identified as a priority by various organisations and Large Marine Ecosystem (LME) Programmes, but presents many challenges. The task requires knowledge of the spatial distribution of the physical and biological patterns and processes that sustain pelagic biodiversity, as well as the distribution and intensity of human use. Bioregionalisation is a process that uses physical and biological data (mostly remotely-sensed) to define broad scale spatial units (or bioregions) in a predefined study area, but in the regular absence of quantitative data on the distribution of pelagic biota, the resulting bioregions are difficult to validate and are thus assumed to correlate with different biological communities. Data on human use patterns are also difficult to obtain, particularly quantitative data on intensity of use. However, understanding the spatial characteristics of the large and complex pelagic realm is the foundation for marine spatial planning, and for planning and implementing a representative system of Marine Protected Areas in a region. We describe and compare four pelagic bioregionalisations of ever increasing study areas in the southern African region (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, the south-east Atlantic, and the south-western Indian Ocean), each conducted as part of regional marine spatial planning programmes, and discuss their application to marine conservation planning. Depending on the input data used, and the size of the study area, different bioregions can be generated for the same region. These differences need to be clearly explained when engaging with stakeholders as part of marine spatial planning exercises. In addition, the conservation targets set for each bioregion require careful validation using independent biological data, if stakeholders are to trust bioregions as meaningful surrogates for unmapped biodiversity.

 

Presentation Topic

THE APPLICATION OF PELAGIC BIOREGIONALISATION TO MARINE CONSERVATION PLANNING IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
Contact Ms Lombard:
Email Mandy Lombard