Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape
In Panama and, to a lesser degree, in the Galápagos Islands, we are conducting research and Science-to-Action activities to monitor reef health, assess the status of reef fisheries, identify natural or human-driven changes in the reef ecosystem, and enhance the effectiveness of MMAs in sustaining coral reefs. We incorporate the regional findings into global analyses to identify successful marine conservation practices.
We collaborate with managers, policy makers, scientists, and stakeholders in the ETPS to identify research needs and to develop work plans that address top priorities. Our research projects are investigating ecological connections among populations and habitats; economic and cultural importance of marine resources; and ecological, socioeconomic, and cultural outcomes of marine management areas.
Core Ecological Monitoring. We are using standardized protocols to track ecological changes inside and outside marine management areas in the ETPS and the other three MMAS Program Focus Areas. We use the data to monitor ecosystem health and biodiversity, and we contribute the information to adaptive management processes. Hector Guzman (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute) conducts our ecological monitoring in Panama’s Coiba National Park, and Matthias Wolff and Stuart Banks (Charles Darwin Foundation) oversee monitoring in the Galápagos Islands. View the Work Plan >>
Core Socioeconomic Monitoring. In conjunction with Core Ecological Monitoring, we use standardized methods to track socioeconomic changes associated with MMAs in our Focus Areas. Juan Mate (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute) and Oswaldo Jordan conduct socioeconomic monitoring at Panama’s Coiba National Park. Diego Quiroga and Carlos Mena (Universidad San Francisco de Quito) conduct socioeconomic monitoring at the Galápagos Islands. View the Work Plan >>
Predictive Decision-Support Tool. We are developing a model that will enable managers, policy makers, and stakeholders in Panama to predict the effectiveness of MMAs based on ecological, socioeconomic, and governance factors. Suchi Gopal (Boston University) leads this research project. View the Work Plan >>
Climate Change Adaptation
Potential for MMAs to Boost Corals’ Resilience. We are developing techniques to measure the resiliency of corals to stresses associated with climate change, and we are using the protocols to compare resiliency inside and outside MMAs. Eric Mueller (Perry Institute of Marine Science) and Chris Langdon (University of Miami) lead this research. View the Work Plan >>
Economic, Social, and Cultural Significance of Marine Resources
Value of Natural Resources. Ricardo Montenegro (Panama’s Agencia para el Desarrollo y Conservacion) is assessing the monetary value of natural resources from marine management areas. The study will provide estimates of changes in resource values expected under different management scenarios. Resource managers, educators, and conservationists can use the findings to build support for marine conservation and to prioritize among management options. View the Work Plan >>
Cultural Roles. We are conducting focus groups and interviews in Panama to learn how cultural practices and values influence the outcomes of marine management areas. View the Work Plan >>
The MMAS Program partners with local communities, government agencies, and not-for-profit organizations in the ETPS. The following are among our partners:
- General Council of Coiba National Park
- Panama Government
- The Charles Darwin Foundation in the Galápagos Marine Reserve
- Universidad San Francisco de Quito (Galápagos branch)
- In Panama more than 30 government and NGO partners came together with MMAS staff for a Science-to-Action workshop. They discussed MMAS results and identified the most effective ways to feed these results into conservation and management processes, most notably implementation of the Coiba National Park Management Plan.
- The MMAS Program organized three workshops in Panama for fishermen and two workshops for other stakeholders. The workshops shared results from monitoring of fisheries, socioeconomic, and biological parameters, and the groups discussed ways to improve fisheries management.
- Based in part on MMAS-supported research in Coiba National Park, a partnership of scientists, fishermen, conservation organizations, and park managers agreed to pursue new fisheries regulations to ensure long-term sustainable use of targeted economically valuable species.
- We created educational materials about the importance of protecting large fish in Coiba National Park because of their high reproductive capacity. The materials helped garner support among fishermen for the newly established no-take zone and seasonal closures.
- We presented MMAS monitoring results at a national meeting in Panama on coastal and marine development, where we emphasized the need for improved management and greater stakeholder participation in decision-making.
- MMAS efforts at the Galápagos Islands are part of an ongoing process – complemented with funds from CI/WFF ETPS and the Redlich Foundation – that supports management of the Galápagos Marine Reserve (GMR). Information from ecological and socioeconomic monitoring will be used as input for discussions with stakeholders in the Participatory Management Board (government scheme for the GMR) to resolve important decisions such as the revision of the Provisional Zoning, the potential shift from coastal fisheries to offshore fisheries, and enlargement of current no-take zones.
- Much of the work done in Galápagos has the potential to be replicated in other marine protected areas in continental Ecuador.
Building Skills and Knowledge
The Marine Management Area Science Program provides training, workshops, and other resources that enable people in the ETPS to develop their skills and knowledge for conservation. Recent examples include:
The MMAS Program produced an illustrated guidebook that we provide to field researchers and stakeholders to raise awareness of threatened species in the region. Divers can record sightings of threatened species in the logbook and email them to our research team.
MMAS partners participated in the Charles Darwin Foundation Science Symposium with the following presentations, which included the use of data collected by the MMAS project along with others:
- Testing trophic cascades in the Galápagos Marine Reserve: an experimental approach
- Vulnerability and resilience of the Galápagos Society: implications of social, economic and cultural capital to exogenous shocks
- Biodiversity of the Galápagos Marine Reserve: Status of the present knowledge and its ecological monitoring
Science to Action Coordinators (ETPS)
For information about MMAS Program activities in ETPS, please contact:
Fernando Ortiz (Galápagos Islands)
Arturo Dominici (Panama/Coiba)