Aerial view of Salt River Bay.
Aerial view of Salt River Bay. St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands. Credit: Mr. Sean Linehan, NOAA, NGS, Remote Sensing

The MPA Center, EBM Tools Network (co-coordinated by OCTO and NatureServe), MPA News and OpenChannels sponsor a monthly webinar series focused on building and strengthening MPA networks. Miss a recent webinar? See the archive.

Watch this site for additional information on upcoming MPA Center Webinars.

Coral reef eco-evolutionary dynamics: Adaptation and connectivity in MPA networks under future climate change

Date/Time: Thursday, February 25, 1 pm US EST / 10 am US PST / 6 pm UTC

Speaker: Helen Fox of Coral Reef Alliance
Lisa McManus of University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Lukas DeFilippo of University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center

While coral reefs face mounting threats, many coral populations are already well adapted to conditions unfavorable to the average coral (e.g., high temperatures, low pH, poor water quality). With the goal of better understanding the drivers of persistence and adaptive capacity and the role of management and MPAs, we developed a general eco-evolutionary framework to explore the influence of network structure and spatial management on a metapopulation's adaptive response to temperature increase. This framework was applied to coral populations in the Caribbean, Southwest Pacific, and Coral Triangle to determine the characteristics of individual reefs that lead to persistence or decline under climate scenarios and test the efficacy of spatial management strategies (MPAs) in these three regions. We also used eco-evolutionary simulations to explore scenarios of coral propagation, transplantation, and assisted evolution and identified potential benefits and risks of these interventions. We find that corals' vulnerability to climate change depends strongly on assumptions of their standing genetic variation, which determines the potential for an evolutionary response. One implication of this work is that MPA networks can promote persistence by protecting coral populations adapted to diverse environments so that corals with evolutionarily favored traits reproduce and spread throughout reef networks.

Co-sponsors: NOAA National MPA Center and OCTO (MPA News, OpenChannels, EBM Tools Network)


Planning Ocean Uses in 3D

Date/Time: Wednesday, March 3, 1 pm US EST / 10 am US PST / 6 pm UTC

Speaker: Mimi D'Iorio of the NOAA National Marine Protected Areas Center
Charles Wahle of the NOAA National Marine Protected Areas Center (retired)

Demand for ocean space is increasing, yet decision makers often lack tools to understand the complete requirements any given use may have for ocean space, and thus its potential to conflict with other coexisting uses. This webinar will present NOAA's new Guide to Building and Applying Space Use Profiles for Ocean Management, which helps ocean planners, managers, and stakeholders fully visualize the holistic, three-dimensional footprint of diverse ocean uses and use that insight to more effectively manage ocean spaces. The Guide illustrates how each ocean use, including its distinct functional components, occupies specific horizontal and vertical ocean zones from the shoreline to the open ocean and from the airspace above the sea surface down to the seabed. The Guide can help inform zoning in marine protected areas and marine spatial plans and the siting of individual uses.

Co-sponsors:NOAA National MPA Center and OCTO (MPA News, OpenChannels, EBM Tools Network)


Shifting MPAs for conservation and fisheries under a changing climate

Date/Time: Tuesday, March 23, 1 pm US EST / 10 am US PST / 5 pm UTC

Speaker: Talya ten Brink of NOAA
Tu Nguyen of Ocean Nexus Center
Anne Mook of Nazarbayev University
Sarah Roberts of Duke University
Juliano Palacios-Abrantes of University of British Columbia

Marine species are shifting their distribution towards colder waters because of climate change, potentially compromising the benefits and management objectives of currently established Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Therefore, it remains unclear what the long-term effectiveness of MPAs for conservation, fisheries, and reliant communities is under a changing climate. The team developed six MPA designs of equal size in an Ecopath with Ecosim model: four static MPAs (Square, Narrow Vertical, Narrow Horizontal, and Network) which stayed in place and two dynamic MPA designs (Square Shifting and Network Shifting) which moved 20 km poleward every 20 years to take into account the shifting nature of marine species affected by climate change. The model differentiated between the Static Horizontal and Static Vertical MPAs because of the expectation that vertically oriented MPAs will be more likely to benefit marine species as they shift poleward due to climate change. The Square Shifting MPA outperformed the Square Static MPA on all aggregate measures and outperformed all MPA orientations in terms of revenue. However, the results suggest that there is no one optimal solution in the face of climate change, and different MPA designs could potentially bring about regional benefits in terms of increased amount of fish and catch. The webinar will discuss our findings, including revenue, biomass, fisheries, and species-specific results.

Co-sponsors: NOAA National MPA Center and OCTO (MPA News, OpenChannels, EBM Tools Network)


Monitoring marine sanctuary usage with NMS-COUNT

Date/Time: Thursday, April 8, 1 pm US EST / 10 am US PST / 5 pm UTC

Speaker: Robert Burns and Ross Andrew of West Virginia University

Visitor use drives change in both ecological and economic conditions in marine areas. The National Marine Sanctuary Visitor Counting Process (NMS-COUNT) was developed and conceptualized to address the needs of NMS managers for visitor counting and assessment. NMSs sites function as underwater parks in the US, and are federally protected for their diverse and exceptional biological and cultural resources. In open water areas, many NMS sites are accessible through almost infinite locations, so a rigorous set of methods to count those visitors, assess their activities, and evaluate their expenditures related to NMS site visitation is needed. The NMS-COUNT process considers the local context of sites and builds off the strength of each site using local expert panels to identify the most feasible visitor monitoring solutions. Pilot studies at Gray's Reef NMS and Florida Keys NMS have produced thousands of visitor observations through wide arrays of sampling techniques. Traditional observation and counting methods are supplemented with specific survey questions and non-traditional techniques for visitor counting (e.g., acoustic signals, social media data, satellite imagery classification, vessel ID tracking data). The methods best suited to a specific site are pulled from the myriad of potential tools, producing a customized counting process that is tailored to the unique attributes of a specific protected area. The NMS-COUNT process can be customized to different marine contexts and holds great potential for learning about visitors in marine settings that are challenging to sample.

Co-sponsors: NOAA National MPA Center and OCTO (MPA News, OpenChannels, EBM Tools Network)