Geospatial Genetics & Marine Spatial Planning

This work represents a highly collaborative effort between NRDC, Wildlife Conservation Society, University of California - Santa Barbara, and the IUCN - Marine Mammal Protected Area Task Force. 

The persistence of biodiversity requires the protection of evolutionary processes at the scale of ecosystems, species, and populations. Genetic tools can provide unique information for marine protection, management, and spatial planning. The integration of genetic information has been lacking however, driven primarily by a knowledge and communication gap between geneticists and the marine policy and management communities. 

Since 2011, I have been spearheading a highly collaborative effort to address this gap through a series of symposia, presentations, and publications with the goal of developing guidance to the genetics, spatial planning, and policy communities on both the importance of genetic information, and how it can be used in a way that is understandable while still ecologically meaningful. 

One of the primary components of this work is the development of “Geospatial Genetics” methodologies (applicable across species and regions) to visualize genetic information alongside other types of information commonly used in planning, such as satellite telemetry and habitat maps. This has led to the development of a number of Geospatial Genetics ‘case studies’ hosted on the marine spatial planning tool, SeaSketch, including the humpback whale case study and spinner dolphin case study.

We have been working in partnership with the IUCN Marine Mammal Protected Area Task Force since 2014 to offer specific guidance on how genetics can be used to inform their global initiate to identify Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs).

Please get in touch if you would like to become a member of our Geospatial Genetics and Marine Spatial Planning Informal Working Group!


RELATED OUTPUTS

Scientific publications

Mendez M., Kershaw F., Palumbi S., Pinsky M., Ray C., Rosenbaum HC., Subramanian A. (2014). Marine spatial planning 2.0: genes and satellites to conserve seascape dynamics. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 24(6), 742-744. [.PDF]

Kershaw F., Rosenbaum HC. (2014). Ten years lost at sea: response to Manel & Holderegger. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 29(2), 69-70. [.PDF]

Policy papers & technical reports

Kershaw, F. & Rosenbaum, H. C. (2016). Genetic analyses for the identification of IMMAs. In: IUCN-MMPATF (2016). Initial guidance on the use of selection criteria for the identification of Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs). Version: October 2016. 60 pp.

Kershaw, F. & Rosenbaum, H. C. (2014). Integrating genetics into the Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMA) identification process. Information document submitted to the regional expert workshop to test the draft criteria used in the identification of Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs). ICMMPA3, November 8th, Stamford Grande Adelaide, Australia.

WORKSHOPS

Kershaw F., Rosenbaum HC. (2015). Integrating genetics into the Important Marine Mammal Area (IMMA) identification process. Society of Marine Mammalogy Biennial Conference, San Francisco, 13th December, 2015.

Kershaw F., Rosenbaum HC. (2014). Developing an approach for integrating genetics into MPA design and spatial planning processes. IMCC3 Focus Group 21, 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC3), Glasgow, Scotland, 19th August, 2014. [Appendix 1]

McClintock W. (Chair), Kershaw F. (Co-Chair) (2013). Innovative support tools & methods for multi-stakeholder MPA network planning. IMPAC3 WS3F1A, 3rd International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC3). Marseilles, France, 23rd October, 2013.

Presentations & other media

Kershaw F., Tetley MJ., Rosenbaum HC., Hoyt E., & Notarbartollo di Sciara G. (2017). Identifying Important Marine Mammal Areas using Geospatial Genetics. Oral presentation. 31st Annual Conference of the European Cetacean Society, Middelfart, Denmark, 29th April - 3rd May, 2017.

Riet-Sapriza FG., Kershaw F., Rosenbaum HC., & Caballero Gaitan SJ. (2016). Using geospatial genetics to map and identify areas of protection for common bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, in the Wider Caribbean. Oral presentation. XI Congreso de la SOLAMAC y XXVII Reunión de Trabajo de Especialistas en Mamiferos Acuáticos de América del Sur y el, Valparaiso, Chile, 28th November, 2016.

Kershaw F., Rosenbaum HC. (2016). Developing a geospatial genetics toolkit to inform marine protection and spatial planning. Invited Presentation. Conservation Campus: Training in tools and best practices of conservation genetics, for policy and management. IUCN World Conservation Congress, Honolulu, Hawaii, 5th September, 2016.

Kershaw F., Rosenbaum HC. (2016). Developing a geospatial genetics toolkit to inform marine protection and spatial planning.Oral Presentation. 4th International Marine Conservation Congress, St. Johns, Canada, 2nd August, 2016.

Kershaw F., Rosenbaum HC. (2016). Geospatial genetics for marine conservation: safeguarding the resilience of far-ranging whales. Invited oral presentation. 4th International Marine Conservation Congress, St. Johns, Canada, 31st July, 2016.

Kershaw F., Rosenbaum HC. (2015). How genetics can support the identification of Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs). Oral Presentation. Society of Marine Mammalogy Biennial Conference, San Francisco, 18th December, 2015.

Kershaw, F. (2014). Addressing the genetics-spatial planning implementation gap. Focus Group presentation, 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress, Glasgow, Scotland, 19th August 2014.

Kershaw, F., Mendez, M. & Rosenbaum, H.C. (2013). Advancing the MPA toolbox: Using genetics and remote sensing to identify management units and understand connectivity across scales. Workshop presentation, IMPAC3, Marseille, France, 23rd October 2013.