Governance of global change requires usable baseline knowledge on migratory connectivity in the ocean

Dr Daniel Dunn1, Dr Autumn-Lynn Harrison2, Ms.  Corrie Curtice1, Ms. Ellie Heywood1, Ms. Connie Kot1, Ms. Sarah DeLand1, Ms. Sarah Poulin1, Mr. Ei Fujioka1, Mr. Ben Donnelly1, Ms. Meredith Whitten1, Mr. Guillermo Ortuno Crespo1, Mr. Alejandro Herrero Palacio1, Mr. Jesse Cleary1, Dr. Patrick Halpin1

1Duke University, Beaufort, United States, 2Migratory Bird Center, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Washington, United States

Due to their large geographic ranges, migratory marine mammals, seabirds, sea turtles and fish experience a variety of anthropogenic pressures over their life histories. Combined with conservation and management strategies that largely fail to consider spatial connectivity over their full life cycles, these threats have contributed to population declines worldwide. Baseline information on migratory connectivity is vital to understanding how migration patterns are changing and how these may impact populations.  Advances in electronic tracking technology over the past 25 years have resulted in the rapid accumulation of information on migratory connectivity in the ocean. However, this information is not widely available, nor has it been effectively synthesized as actionable knowledge for baseline or planning purposes. The Migratory Connectivity in the Ocean (MiCO; system seeks to fill this gap by compiling and synthesizing data on connectivity among nodes (aggregations of areas used for a particular life cycle activity such as feeding or breeding) via corridors (aggregations of routes animals travel between nodes). Data is being gathered from a systematic literature review and direct contributions by collaborating partners as input to MiCO. The literature review is currently focused on telemetry data and encompasses over 200 species. Here we present a prototype of the MiCO system and a summary of information on migratory connectivity derived from the literature review.  This system will be critical for informing the development of area-based management tools (including MPAs) and transboundary environmental impact assessments.


Dr. Dunn is an Assistant Research Professor with the Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab at Duke University.  As an interdisciplinary marine conservation scientist, his research focuses on using spatial analytics to develop applied solutions to natural resource management and conservation problems through area-based management across a range of scales.  Dr. Dunn sits on the science board of the Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative and is co-chair of the Biology & Ecosystems Panel of the Global Ocean Observing System.

Species on the Move

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The conference brings together scientists and natural resource managers working in the disciplines of global change, biogeography and evolution, and relevant in contexts of natural resource management, biodiversity management and conservation, and theoretical ecology.

Species responses to climate change is a rapidly evolving research field, however, much of our progress is being made in independent research areas: e.g. understanding the process vs responding to the implications, terrestrial vs marine ecosystems, global meta-analyses vs in depth species-specific approaches. This interdisciplinary conference develops connections between these parallel streams, and across temporal and spatial scales.

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