Brazil has many reef-dwelling species that live nowhere else in the world, making it a priority area for marine conservation. In Brazil, our activities focus on the Abrolhos Region, a large, relatively shallow area with unique, mushroom-shaped reef pinnacles. Fisheries and tourism are the most important economic activities, while overfishing, oil extraction, shrimp farming, and dredging are the key threats. We are conducting scientific research and Science-to-Action activities to enhance management and protection of these vital coral reefs. As part of our global network, we use research in Brazil to identify successful marine conservation practices.
We collaborate with managers, policy makers, scientists, and stakeholders in Brazil to identify research needs and to develop integrated work plans. We are investigating ecological connections among populations and habitats; socioeconomic and cultural importance of marine resources; and ecological, socioeconomic, and cultural outcomes of marine management areas.
Core Ecological Monitoring. The MMAS program uses standardized protocols to track ecological changes inside and outside marine management areas in Abrolhos and the other three MMAS Focus Areas. We use the data to monitor ecosystem health and biodiversity, and we contribute the information to adaptive management processes. Rodrigo Moura (Conservation International), Ronaldo Francini-Filho (State University of Paraíba), and Carolina Minte-Vera (State University of Maringá) conduct our ecological monitoring in Brazil. View the Work Plan »
Core Socioeconomic Monitoring. In conjunction with Core Ecological Monitoring, the MMAS Program uses standardized methods to track socioeconomic changes associated with MMAs in the MMAS Focus Areas. In Brazil, Isabela Curado (Fundação Getulio Vargas) and Rodrigo Moura (Conservation International) conduct our socioeconomic monitoring. View the Work Plan »
Connectivity of Populations and Habitats
Nursery Habitats for Reef Fish. Many reef fish are believed to spend their early lives in shallow, coastal habitats such as marshes and seagrass meadows that are heavily affected by human impacts. Ken Lindeman (Florida Institute of Technology), Rodrigo de Moura (Conservation International), and Les Kaufman (Boston University) are conducting research to understand where the young fish are most abundant and how they move among habitats. The findings will enable resource managers, policy makers, and local people to protect the habitats most critical for survival of young fish. View the Work Plan »
Mapping the Habitat Mosaic. The Abrolhos Bank ecosystem is a mosaic of coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, and soft-bottom habitats. Reef-dwelling animals often use the other habitats, but little is known about the ecological roles of non-reef habitats or even where they are located. Guilherme Dutra (Conservation International), Rodrigo Moura (Conservation International), Alex Bastos (Federal University of Espírito Santo), Paulo Sumida (University of São Paulo), Gilberto Dias (Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro), Milton Kampel (Brazil National Space Agency), and John Musinsky (Conservation International) are mapping the habitats of the Abrolhos Bank using side-scan sonar, remotely operated vehicles, aerial surveys, and satellite imagery to facilitate an ecosystem approach to management. View the Work Plan »
Economic, Social and Cultural Significance of Marine Resources
Economic Values of Goods and Services Associated with MMAs. John Reid and Marcos Amend (Conservation Strategy Fund) are assessing the monetary value of natural resources associated with marine management areas of the Abrolhos Bank and the economic implications of future management scenarios. The findings enable resource managers, educators, and conservationists to build support for marine conservation and to prioritize among management options.
Cultural Roles of Goods and Services Associated with MMAs. Michael Orbach (Duke University) and Isabela Curado (Fundação Getulio Vargas) are conducting interviews and focus groups to understand how cultural practices and values influence the outcomes of marine resource management. View the Work Plan »
The MMAS Program partners with local communities, government agencies, and not-for-profit organizations in Brazil. The following are among our partners:
- Brazil Government
- Ministry of Environment
- ICMBio (Brazilian Agency of Protected Areas)
- State University of Paraíba
- State University of Maringá
- University of São Paulo
- Federal University of Espírito Santo
- Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
- Federal University of Bahia
- Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro
- Brazil National Space Agency
- CNPq (Brazilian Science Agency)
- PROAlbrolhos (consortium of 14 research institutions)
We work closely with government agencies, local communities, and non-profit organizations in Brazil to plan and conduct Science-to-Action activities, which use scientific findings to improve marine management.
- A MMAS Science-to-Action workshop in March 2008 brought together 22 partners from government, universities, non-government organizations, local communities, and CI staff.
- Our scientists discovered extensive areas of coral reefs with tremendous biodiversity offshore at Abrolhos Bank and demonstrated key ecological connections between these areas and coastal habitats. The government is analyzing new mechanisms for the protection of the Bank's marine species, many of which live nowhere else in the world.
- Scientific discoveries, such as habitat connectivity and socioeconomic estimates of nearly one thousand families making their living from Cassurubá mangroves, contributed to the Ministry of Environment accelerating the creation of the Cassurubá Extractive Reserve, which covers more than 350 square miles and protects the nursery sites for many fish species.
- We presented MMAS results in a series of targeted meetings with state and federal governments. The meetings resulted in a formal agreement under which the Ministry of Environment will help disseminate MMAS results nationally.
- We formed a partnership with PROAbrolhos to plan research and to share expertise and equipment. The collaboration will result in consistent and comparable scientific studies to inform marine conservation.
- CI-Brazil was invited to help plan a marine protected area covering 4,600 square miles in São Paulo state. We presented the MMAS Program's methods as a model for planning and managing the protected area.
- The MMAS Program provided data for and participated in two IUCN Red List Workshops, one for reviewing the status of marine fishes and the other for producing the São Paulo State red list.
- The largest television channel in Brazil showed a 40-minute program on research in Abrolhos, highlighting MMAS activities.
Building Skills and Knowledge
The MMAS Program provides training, workshops, and other resources that enable people in Brazil to develop their skills and knowledge for conservation. Recent examples:
- In partnership with SOS Mata Atlântica Foundation, Conservation International organized a field course on marine conservation and monitoring for managers and university students in São Paulo State. A second version of this training will take place in Abrolhos in early 2010.
- For local communities, Conservation International and the Humpback Whale Institute are organizing a series of field exchanges on marine protected areas with different management experiences. This program is creating a strong partnership with these communities, which are becoming important conservation partners.
MMAS Science-to-Action Coordinators (Brazil)
Guilherme Dutra (Science-to-Action activities and general management)
Marine Program Director
Conservation International Brazil
Rodrigo Moura (Principal investigator and science oversight)
Conservation International Brazil