Linking Freshwater Ecosystems and Diadromy in Selecting Marine Reserves in Enclosed and Semi-enclosed Seas: Caspian Sea as Case Study

Mehrdad Khanmohammadi (2011). Linking Freshwater Ecosystems and Diadromy in Selecting Marine Reserves in Enclosed and Semi-enclosed Seas: Caspian Sea as Case Study PhD Thesis, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Mehrdad Khanmohammadi
Thesis Title Linking Freshwater Ecosystems and Diadromy in Selecting Marine Reserves in Enclosed and Semi-enclosed Seas: Caspian Sea as Case Study
School, Centre or Institute School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-09
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr.Clive McAlpine
Dr. Ann Peterson
Dr Daryl McPhee
Dr Parvin Farshchi
Total pages 202
Total colour pages 37
Total black and white pages 165
Language eng
Subjects 0501 Ecological Applications
050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
050205 Environmental Management
Abstract/Summary The overall aim of this thesis was to develop and apply ecological criteria for selecting marine reserve systems that effectively conserve diadromous species in enclosed and semi-enclosed seas. It addressed the problem that, while marine reserves are increasingly being used to conserve biodiversity and restore biological populations, current marine reserve selection criteria and their application do not include functional linkages and external threats which make marine and freshwater ecosystems interdependent. Without explicitly capturing these linkages, marine reserves will fail to protect important elements that maintain marine biodiversity, especially diadromous fish species. The core tenet of the thesis argues that conservation of diadromous species in the marine biodiversity context is not inclusive when these species are being caught or are losing their spawning grounds in freshwater ecosystems beyond marine reserve boundaries. It proposes that functional linkages between freshwater and marine ecosystems, critical for viable diadromous fish populations and their habitats, be considered as a new criterion in reserve site selection processes, particularly for enclosed and semi-enclosed seas. Furthermore, the effects of land-based threats on downstream marine ecosystems should be minimised. Four core principles to guide the application of this new criterion are presented: •Principle 1: Functional ecological linkages between marine and freshwater ecosystems need to be maintained, while damaged functional linkages need to be restored. •Principle 2: The life history attributes and critical habitat requirements and migration routes of diadromous species must be explicitly considered. •Principle 3: Adverse land-based impacts on the ecological condition and integrity of marine reserves must be minimised. •Principle 4: Strategies for selecting linked marine/freshwater reserves should be compatible with integrated management plans in coastal areas. The new criterion, in combination with the existing criteria used in marine reserve design, was applied using MARXAN reserve selection software, with the southern Caspian Sea selected as a case study. The application of all the criteria to the case study led to the selection of a marine reserve system that spatially linked marine and freshwater ecosystems. The selected reserve system included three major clusters of marine reserve units and 18 major river systems distributed across several biogeographic regions of the southern Caspian Sea. Endangered species’ habitats and ecologically important habitats for diadromous species were explicitly represented in the final reserve system. Areas which were identified as of great significance for traditional fishing communities were excluded from the selected reserve system, thus minimising the social and economic impacts on these communities. To provide access to unprotected areas for fishing and to leave adequate resources for local fisheries; 24.5% (411,142 ha) of the sea was designated as reserve network. The outcome of analysis carried out in this thesis created a marine reserve network with combination of relatively small (<10,000 ha), medium (10,000ha-100,000ha) and relatively large (>100,000ha) reserve sites. This study is significant as it is the first attempt at selecting marine reserves in enclosed and semi-enclosed seas such as the Caspian Sea which functionally link marine and freshwater ecosystems. The results confirm the need for functional linkages between marine and freshwater ecosystems. The final marine reserve network and protected river systems have the capacity to conserve biodiversity in a spatially linked marine-freshwater reserve network. However, the functional linkages are not limited only to biological linkages (i.e. diadromous species movement)—other aspects such as food and pollutant transfer between terrestrial and marine ecosystems (through runoff) are shown as critical issues in spatially linking freshwater and marine reserve ecosystems. These aspects need to be considered in the selection of reserve systems in enclosed and semi-enclosed seas. The Caspian Sea is a unique asset of global biodiversity and its conservation should be based on sound ecological science rather than economic and political opportunism. This study could be expanded to include trans-boundary management plans to designate an appropriate fraction of the whole Caspian Sea to a marine reserves network. This would represent an important step towards achieving biodiversity conservation for the whole sea and the freshwater ecosystems that feed into the sea.
Keyword Marine reserves network
conservation planning
caspian sea
marxan
biodiversity
reserve design
diadromous species
Additional Notes following pages should be printed in colour: 24,25,30,50,74,79,87,91,92,94,96-99,101,102,105-107, 109,110,115,119,120,124,125,128,129,131,133,145,148,160,162,163,166,200 And page no 70 should be printed in landscape.

 
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Created: Sun, 08 Apr 2012, 21:23:06 EST by Mehrdad Khanmohammadi on behalf of Library - Information Access Service