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, 22 (1), 120-30

Linking Terrestrial and Marine Conservation Planning and Threats Analysis

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Linking Terrestrial and Marine Conservation Planning and Threats Analysis

Heather Tallis et al. Conserv Biol.

Abstract

The existence of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone makes it clear that marine ecosystems can be damaged by terrestrial inputs. Marine and terrestrial conservation planning need to be aligned in an explicit fashion to fully represent threats to marine systems. To integrate conservation planning for terrestrial and marine systems, we used a novel threats assessment that included 5 cross-system threats in a site-prioritization exercise for the Pacific Northwest coast ecoregion (U.S.A.). Cross-system threats are actions or features in one ecological realm that have effects on species in another realm. We considered bulkheads and other forms of shoreline hardening threats to terrestrial systems and roads, logging, agriculture, and urban areas threats to marine systems. We used 2 proxies of freshwater influence on marine environments, validated against a mechanistic model and field observations, to propagate land-based threats into marine sites. We evaluated the influence of cross-system threats on conservation priorities by comparing MARXAN outputs for 3 scenarios that identified terrestrial and marine priorities simultaneously: (1) no threats, (2) single-system threats, and (3) single- and cross-system threats. Including cross-system threats changed the threat landscape dramatically. As a result the best plan that included only single-system threats identified 323 sites (161,500 ha) at risk from cross-system threats. Including these threats changed the location of best sites. By comparing the best and sum solutions of the single- and cross-system scenarios, we identified areas ideal for preservation or restoration through integrated management. Our findings lend quantitative support to the call for explicitly integrated decision making and management action in terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

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