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International workshop: Marine Trophic Connectivity in Seascape Conservation Management

Updated: Jun 24

On May 27th 2024, as a side event to the International Marine Connectivity conference (I-MarCo 2024), Andreu Blanco (Univ. of Vigo - Spain), Lucia Lopez Lopez (IEO/CSIC, - Spain), Tamar Guy Haim (IOLR - Israel), and Francisco Barboza (Univ. of Tartu - Estonia), held a full-day workshop designed to advance on the integration of spatial connectivity and species trophic interactions towards improved protection measures and management strategies. The workshop gathered 24 experts from 12 countries, among them many SEA-UNICORN members and 14 early career scientists.


Dr. Andreu Blanco first presented the challenges in defining Trophic Connectivity and the need for a common conceptualization in this area to advance conservation management initiatives. Then, Dr. Marta Coll (ICM, CSIC) reviewed the current status of Marine Functional Connectivity and trophic interactions modeling, its use in management advice and main research gaps. This enriching and inspiring talk opened the door to a brainstorming exercise on the best keywords to use for a systematic review on Marine Trophic Connectivity (MTC), moderated by Dr. Lucía López-López.



A series of inspirational speed-talks and further round discussions in small breakout groups followed, mainly aiming at:

1. Discuss the relevance of Trophic Connectivity for marine conservation and management,

2. Identify the most relevant data on foraging movements for assessing trophic connectivity,

3. Discuss how these data could contribute to improved MPA network design and management.


Trophic Connectivity and marine

conservation management

Dr. Renato Morais presented a case study on energy fluxes within seascape patches to better understand the functioning of coral reefs. Each breakout group then discussed the relevance of studying trophic connectivity between realms (coastal vs. deep sea, pelagic vs. benthic habitats, etc.)



Data to estimate MTC

Dr. Tamar Guy-Haim described the methods and approaches currently available to gather MTC data for conservation and management strategies. This was followed by discussions on best tools/data for quantifying MTC, the pros and cons for each tool (including challenges), and how the selection of tools can facilitate/prevent the transfer of scientific knowledge/data to decision-making.


MTC towards improved MPA networks

Dr. Francisco Barboza and Kriistina Nurske led the discussion on how MTC can contribute to the disgn of more effective and improved networks of MPAs. Through a set of triggering questions, this exercise aimed to (1) gain insights into MTC knowledge and data and the processes for informing MPA managers, and (2) identify main barriers to knowledge transfer and potential solutions to overcome them.


All answers were collected and shared with the participants. Finally, the workshop organizers presented the next steps towards elaborating a set of outputs related to the workshop with an open discussion on the best approaches towards integrating MTC knowledge into decision-making and conservation management.








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