Overlap between marine predators and proposed Marine Managed Areas on the Patagonian Shelf
Static (fixed-boundary) protected areas are key ocean conservation strategies, and marine higher predator distribution data can play a leading role toward identifying areas for conservation action. The Falkland Islands are a globally significant site for colonial breeding marine higher predators (i.e., seabirds and pinnipeds). However, overlap between marine predators and Falkland Islands proposed Marine Managed Areas (MMAs) has not been quantified. Hence, to provide information required to make informed decisions regarding the implementation of proposed MMAs, our aims were to objectively assess how the proposed MMA network overlaps with contemporary estimates of marine predator distribution. We collated tracking data (1999–2019) and used a combination of kernel density estimation and model-based predictions of spatial usage to quantify overlap between colonial breeding marine predators and proposed Falkland Islands MMAs. We also identified potential IUCN Key Biodiversity Areas (pKBAs) using (1) kernel density based methods originally designed to identify Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) and (2) habitat preference models. The proposed inshore MMA, which extends three nautical miles from the Falkland Islands, overlapped extensively with areas used by colonial breeding marine predators. This reflects breeding colonies being distributed throughout the Falklands archipelago, and use being high adjacent to colonies due to central-place foraging constraints. Up to 45% of pKBAs identified via kernel density estimation were located within the proposed MMAs. In particular, the proposed Jason Islands Group MMA overlapped with pKBAs for three marine predator species, suggesting it is a KBA hot spot. However, tracking data coverage was incomplete, which biased pKBAs identified using kernel density methods, to colonies tracked. Moreover, delineation of pKBA boundaries were sensitive to the choice of smoothing parameter used in kernel density estimation. Delineation based on habitat model predictions for both sampled and unsampled colonies provided less biased estimates, and revealed 72% of the Falkland Islands Conservation Zone was likely a KBA. However, it may not be practical to consider such a large area for fixed-boundary management. In the context of wide-ranging marine predators, emerging approaches such as dynamic ocean management could complement static management frameworks such as MMAs, and provide protection at relevant spatiotemporal scales.
Authors: Baylis, A.M.M., de Lecea, A.M., Tierney, M., Orben, R.A., Ratcliffe, N. ORCID record for N. Ratcliffe, Wakefield, E., Catry, P., Campioni, L., Costa, M., Boersma, P.D., Galimberti, F., Granadeiro, J.P., Masello, J.F., Pütz, K., Quillfeldt, P., Rebstock, G.A., Sanvito, S., Staniland, I.J. ORCID record for I.J. Staniland, Brickle, P.