The California Ocean Protection Council in partnership with the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) and the UC Davis Coastal Marine Science Institute (CMSI) have launched an innovative project to tackle the most pressing science questions related to California’s Marine Protected Area (MPA) Network. The project embedded three post-doctoral researchers within CA Department of Fish and Wildlife for 18 months where they will be co-mentored by senior scientific staff and faculty at UC Davis. In collaboration with the extensive network of scientists and local experts developed throughout the state during the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative process, baseline monitoring and the development of the MPA Management Program the mentors and researchers have addressed key questions needed to advance the adaptive management of California’s MPA Network.
The Statewide Monitoring Fellow- Prior to taking her current position Katie Kaplan was a National Marine Fisheries Service Sea Grant Fellow working with Patrick Sullivan in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University. Katie has been mentored by state Marine Habitat Conservation Manager Becky Ota, who oversees the MPA Management Program for DFW and Professor Loo Botsford whose work focuses on population dynamics including effects of MPAs on marine populations. Katie’s work will focus on creating a quantitative approach to site and metric selection to evaluate the performance of the MPA network as a whole at meeting the goals of the MLPA. This work will be aggregated in an MPA Monitoring Action Plan which after a peer review and public comment period will inform future actions and spending for long-term monitoring. The Draft MPA Monitoring Action Plan has recently been released (mid July 2019) for public comments.
The Fishery/MPA Integration Fellow- Prior to taking her current position Lauren Yamane was a California Sea Grant Fellow with the Delta Science Program and after earning her Ph.D. at UC Davis where she focused on causes of population variability of fishes. Lauren will be mentored by state Invertebrate Program Manager Sonke Mastrup and Associate Professor Marissa Baskett whose work focuses on conservation population biology including MPA effects related to climate impacts. Lauren’s work has focused on developing quantitative approaches to integrating MPA effects into Fishery Management Plan harvest control rules and stock assessments. The current update of the Abalone Recovery and Management Plan will likely be used as a case study in her work.
The ROV Data Integration Fellow- Prior to taking his current position Nick Perkins was a researcher at the University of Tasmania focusing on methods development and analyses of benthic visual imagery data. Nick will be mentored by ROV Program Manager Mike Prall and Professor Steven Morgan whose work focuses on how behavior at different lifecycle stages affect populations. Nick’s work has been focusing on working through the rich and as yet unexplored ROV data set collected by DFW inside and outside MPAs over the past ten years. This work has informed the development of the MPA Monitoring Action Plan as well as the fisheries integration work.
Work by the postdoctoral fellows at these three locations has been closely coordinated through frequent electronic and face-to-face meetings. The participating UC Davis academic mentors are Marissa Baskett, Louis Botsford, Alan Hastings, John Largier, and Steven Morgan; and Oregon State University academic mentor Will White. Together these postdocs have been providing a unique opportunity to work at the academia-agency interface and advance the science of adaptive management in the context of one of the world’s most extensive MPA networks.