Monitoring and Evaluation of Kelp Forest Ecosystems in the MLPA Marine Protected Area Network

Award Period
to
Award Amount
$682,942
Agency Name
UC Santa Cruz
Award Number
A19-0764-S006
PI First Name
Jennifer
PI Last Name
 Caselle
MSI People
Area/s of Research
Ecology and Evolution
Abstract

Background and Objectives:

Shallow rocky reefs and kelp forests are iconic coastal marine ecosystems, which support economically and culturally significant ecosystem services along the coastline of California and its offshore islands. Consequently, this ecosystem was targeted for protection in the MLPA Master Plan and prioritized in the Marine Protected Area Monitoring Action Plan (MPAMAP). To achieve the long-term monitoring and evaluation goals identified in the MPAMAP, we have organized a consortium of institutions distributed across the three MPAMAP regions of California, with interdisciplinary expertise in ecological and environmental monitoring and MPA evaluation. The consortium is uniquely qualified and geographically situated to design, conduct, analyze and present ecological and environmental monitoring results to directly address many of the management questions identified in the MPAMAP relevant to this ecosystem. We propose to collect historic MPA monitoring and environmental data sets, collect new ecological and environmental data over all three years of the project, simultaneously analyze these data yearly, and generate graphical and textual interpretations for presentation prior to and at the 2022 evaluation review. We will conduct this work in close consultation with CDFW, OPC and OST personnel.

The overarching goal is to inform the adaptive management of California’s network of MPAs with focus on network review in 2022.

The specific objectives are:

  1. Conduct kelp forest surveys at selected MPA and reference sites,
  2. Collect oceanographic information at selected MPA sites,
  3. Conduct statistical analyses on MPA performance guided by the MPAMAP and
  4. focused on key metrics and species for kelp forest ecosystems using both recent and historical data,
  5. Conduct outreach activities in partnership with CDFW and OPC.
  6. Document datasets and analysis code and submit to appropriate repositories.

Task 1. Conduct kelp forest monitoring data collection in the Santa Barbara channel and northern Channel islands portion South coast MLPA region in the< Kelp & Shallow Rock Ecosystems (0-30 m) - Using standardized methods, conduct kelp forest surveys using SCUBA at MPA and references sites throughout the Santa Barbara channel and norther Channel islands.

- Train new staff and volunteers in established kelp forest survey methodology

- Selection of sites is linked directly to sites selected by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and detailed in the MPA Action Plan

-Work collaboratively with partner academic scientists to ensure that data are collected using the same established protocols and that the data are statistically compatible.

- Work collaboratively with partner academic scientists to ensure that QA/QC procedures are compatible and implemented similarly across institutions,

Task 2. Conduct analyses and participate in outreach and reporting for the 2022 MPA network evaluation

- Conduct data synthesis for the consortium – merging PISCO datasets and where appropriate, ReefCheck CA datasets

- Locate, assemble and document existing historical datasets identified in th proposal (e.g. NPS KFM, CRANE, San Nicholas)

- Conduct statistical analyses on MPA performance guided by the MPAMAP and focused on key metrics and species for kelp forest ecosystems using both recent and historical data

- Participate with other PIs on report writing and dissemination of results