In addition to responding to changing management needs and environmental conditions, MPA monitoring should be flexible to allow improvements based on increased scientific knowledge and experience with different monitoring methods and approaches. Through our roles in monitoring planning and implementation, we are actively engaged in advancing MPA monitoring.
Identifying research priorities
Each regional monitoring plan is developed using a consultative process to identify, apply and extend the best-available science. We have previously convened small groups of experts to identify the current limits of scientific knowledge and identify future priority research questions. We are also engaging in efforts to develop new tools to analyze monitoring data, such as integrating data from multiple species and habitats to understand ecosystem condition.
Testing monitoring approaches
Monitoring implementation begins with baseline data collection in each MLPA region and this data offers the first opportunity to test monitoring approaches and increase our understanding of regional ecosystems and human uses. For example, in response to requirements specified in the Request for Proposals, all the projects funded as part of the North Central Coast Baseline Program explicitly include steps to analyze data and provide recommendations for refining and advancing long-term monitoring approaches.
Advancing monitoring science
In the future, we also intend to directly foster monitoring innovations through a collaborative and interdisciplinary research program that, for example, develops and tests new technologies for data collection, advances our understanding of MPA network functioning, and develops new tools to assess and report ecosystem condition and trends.