Progress towards developing a fisheries management strategy for data-limited species in Peru (Nov 3)

A majority of fisheries around the world lack the data and/or capacity to be scientifically assessed and managed. Scientifically assessed fish stocks are in better shape than those that are not, with small-scale, unassessed fisheries in worse shape with declining trends. While most of the assessment and management practices have been developed for large-scale, data-rich fisheries, there are many emerging options available for data and capacity limited fisheries. However, there is a challenge in navigating all of the available options, given their differences in data requirements, outputs, costs, and meeting different objectives. To address this, the SNAP Data-limited Fisheries working group is nearing completion of a Decision Support System (DSS) for data- and capacity-limited fisheries. The DSS is a process oriented approach to selecting the three components of a management strategy: 1) a monitoring plan; 2) assessment of the status of the resource; and 3) management decision rules. The DSS allows users to characterize the unique attributes of their fishery through a series of questions, which narrows down the management strategy options to those most cost-effective and relevant to the fishery.

In this round-table, I will present our progress towards applying this framework for a set of data-limited fisheries in Peru: 1) the Lorna Drum (Sciaena deliciosa) fishery; and 2) the Chita (Anisotremus scapularis) fishery. The project will be presented in the context of the Peruvian case study, but I hope this will stimulate discussion around the broader application of this framework and the use of decision support systems.

– – – – –
Dawn Dougherty
NCEAS Data-limited Fisheries SNAP Working Group

What kind of science do we need to create sustainable pathways in the Arctic? (Oct 14)

Globalization processes coupled to the new sea transport routes, resource and infrastructure development and market integration are changing the arctic social-ecological systems at an accelerating pace. The increase in global connectedness will change the local resource-use systems thereby altering landscapes, fish and wildlife populations, and other ecosystem services important to Arctic people. While there is a rich body of research focusing on the direct effects of global warming and adaptions to climate-related changes, we have a limited understanding about how globalization and the adoption of new lifestyles, practices, technologies and institutional innovations could influence causal pathways and sustainability in the Arctic. Despite of these large gaps in understanding, researchers are expected to deliver knowledge that could enable actions and adaptations to environmental changes.

In this roundtable, I hope to spur an informal discussion about what kinds of science are needed and which research gaps we need to fill before providing reliable advice about sustainable pathways. While I will briefly introduce sustainability challenges in the Arctic by presenting the Belmont Forum project CONNECT, this roundtable will benefit from the participants broad experience from research outside the Arctic. I also encourage participants to bring their mobile or laptop in case we will use interactive polling to facilitate discussions (no software need to be installed).

Dr. Vera Helene Hausner
NCEAS Visiting Scientist
Associate Professor in Sustainability Science, UiT-The Arctic University of Norway

NCEAS / UCSB role as the new LTER Network Communications Office (Oct 7)

The National Science Foundation recently awarded the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network Communications Office (NCO) to UCSB and NCEAS (PI Frank Davis; Co-PIs Carol Blanchette, Jenn Caselle, Stacy Rebich Hespanha, Matt Jones, and Mark Schildhauer). The NCO is conceived as an integrated set of activities in three areas – Communication and Outreach, Synthesis Research, and Education and Training – that builds on NCEAS’ longstanding relationship with LTER scientists, leverages existing staff capacity and infrastructure, and takes advantage of UCSB’s strengths and resources in ecology, environmental science and management, environmental communication and media, and environmental informatics.

In this Roundtable I will summarize the key feaures of the NCO and what it will mean for NCEAS, UCSB, and the broader LTER community. I will leave ample time for discussion of NCO needs and priorities.

Frank W. Davis
Director, NCEAS
Professor, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, UCSB

Introduction to Spatial Analysis in R

Jamie Afflerback (NCEAS Assistant Specialist)
Wed Sept 23
Note location change to Main Conference Room
Ever wonder how to work with your spatial data in R? Now’s the time to learn! I will lead an informal, participatory workshop on how to do some spatial analysis in R. This session will use RStudio to introduce some of the most commonly used spatial packages/libraries to work with both raster and vector data types.

– Your own personal laptop
– Familiarity with R and RStudio. This is not an introduction to R so participants should already be using R.
– The most up to date versions of R and RStudio

The workshop is set up to walk through a script I prepared, line by line. Participants can choose to code as we go along, or just step through the coded script. If you’d like to participate please send an email to by Monday September 21. More details will be sent out next Tuesday.

For a preview, you can find all code and data held in this GitHub repository. Please note that being familiar with GitHub is not a requirement to participate.

Environmental and Social Sustainability: How High A Priority for Environmental Organizations? (Sept 16)

This will be an informal discussion related to sustainability issues for organizations such as our own. Please come prepared to share your experiences, opinions and ideas! I hope that through this discussion we might come up with some concrete ideas about what we, as individuals, can do to help to promote sustainability within our current and future organizations.

Some questions we might use to guide the discussion include:

– Do organizations that focus on environmental issues have a responsibility to be environmentally (and socially) sustainable? Do they have special responsibilities in these areas because of the environmental focus of their work?
– What is meant by ‘sustainability’? What does environmental and social sustainability for an organization like NCEAS look like?
– How do environmental organizations know if they have achieved sustainability, or are making progress toward a goal? What responsibilities do they have (if any) to monitor sustainability performance?
– Do individuals who work for environmental organizations have a responsibility to invest effort in contributing to the sustainability of those organizations? If so, what kinds of actions can they take?

If you have ideas for additional questions we might discuss, please send them to me and I’ll add them to the list.

Dr. Stacy Rebich Hespanha
NCEAS Research Associate

Bundling multiple ecosystem services in agroecosystems: Insights from a historical perspective (Sept 9)

The need to reconcile food production, multiple ecosystem services (ES) and biodiversity conservation has spurred the search for more sustainable ways of farming. In this context, my approach consists in getting insights from the past to support the management of present and future agroecosystems.

First, I investigated how past agricultural practices can affect current ecosystem functioning. A better understanding of such legacy is of key importance for predicting human environmental impacts. In some South American wetlands, I found that humans have created favorable habitat for crops, but also for a high diversity of organisms that today maintain the vestiges of fields against erosion since they were abandoned hundred years ago. Based on these results, I came to understand how to exploit synergies between human actions and those of natural soil organisms (such as social insects, earthworms and plants) to design agroecosystems that support food production, biodiversity and soil fertility.

Second, I tested how a historical perspective on ES can help meet the challenge of managing multiple ES simultaneously. To do this, I reconstructed the provision of nine ES (including food production, carbon storage, flood regulation, recreational activities) over the past 35 years in an agroforested landscape in Quebec, Canada. My results demonstrated that individual ES, ES assemblages, and interactions among ES changed across both time and space, driven by combination of policy changes, biophysical and socio-economic characteristics of the study region. My approach led to a better understanding of how multiple ES interact, how trade-offs and synergies emerge, and how interactions may shift through time as social-ecological conditions change.

Dr. Delphine Renard
McGill University & Quebec Center for Biodiversity Science

July 8: Integrating Traditional Ecological Knowledge into Resource Management and Research at Pinnacles National Park

In December 2011, an important cultural and ecological process was reignited in Pinnacles National Park when the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band gathered alongside agency fire crews and land managers to burn a stand of native deergrass (Muhlenbergia rigens). Throughout California, California Indian people traditionally burned selected areas to manage and promote food and fiber. This project is unique in that it incorporates two distinct knowledge systems and welcomes an indigenous perspective in park research and management. From the project’s beginning, tribal partners participated in establishing research questions and goals of the project. Tribal members, and especially tribal youth, regularly participated in collecting data and implementing treatments. The burn is one of several highlights of this integrated program at Pinnacles that aims to gain a better understanding of California Indian management practices and its role in shaping the landscape over centuries of time, and how this awareness influences today’s management.

Brent Johnson
Park Botanist, Acting Chief
Research and Resource Management Division
Pinnacles National Park

July 7: Discussion about Hurdles to Synthesis and Navigating Collaborations in Working Groups

Navigating working group dynamics can be challenging but is a necessary step to achieve synthesis. Here we discuss hurdles to synthesis and navigating collaborations in working groups (e.g. data availability and integration, analysis techniques, and social / collaborative issues). We will start with a brief informal presentation of key elements of the issue, and aim to spend most of the time engaged in discussion with the NCEAS community. Please come prepared to discuss a hurdle to synthesis (and/or solution!) which you have experienced.

Rachael Blake, NCEAS Post Doc
Jessica Couture, NCEAS Research Associate
Colette Ward, NCEAS Post Doc