Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 4619
Title: Advancing the use of local ecological knowledge for assessing data-poor species in coastal ecosystems
Author: Anne H. Beaudreau, P. S. Levin
Publication Year: 2014
Journal: Ecological Applications
Volume: 24
Pages: 244-256
Keywords: local ecological knowledge,rockfish,Puget Sound


Many of the world’s most vulnerable and rapidly changing ecosystems are also among the most data-poor, leading to an increased interest in use of local ecological knowledge (LEK) to document long-term environmental change. The integration of multiple knowledge sources for assessing species abundance and distribution has gained traction over the past decade as a growing number of case studies show concordance between LEK and scientific data. This study advances the use of quantitative approaches for synthesizing LEK by presenting a novel application of bootstrapping and statistical modeling to evaluate variance in ecological observations of fisheries practitioners. We developed a historical record of abundance for 22 marine species in Puget Sound, Washington, using LEK and quantified variation in perceptions of abundance trends among fishers, divers, and researchers (N = 101) who differed in aspects of their information environments, which are characterized by how, when, and where an individual has acquired ecological information. Abundance trends derived from interviews suggest that rockfish populations have been in decline since at least the 1960s and three species that were afforded federal protection under the Endangered Species Act in 2010 were perceived as relatively less abundant than other rockfishes. Differences in perception of rockfish abundance trends among age groups were consistent with our hypothesis that the reported magnitude of decline in abundance would increase with age, with younger respondents more likely to report high abundance than older individuals across all periods. Temporal patterns in the mean and variance of reported rockfish abundance indices were qualitatively similar between fishers and researchers; however, fishers reported higher indices of abundance than researchers for all but one rockfish species. The two respondent groups reported similar changes in rockfish abundance from the 1940s to 2000s, except for two recreationally valuable species that fishers perceived as having undergone greater declines than researchers. When aggregated at appropriate spatial-temporal scales and in a culturally appropriate manner, observations of resource users are a valuable source of ecological information. Continued development of creative analytical tools for synthesizing multiple knowledge sources will be essential for advan

Theme: Ecosystem Approach to Management for the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem
Foci: Conduct integrated ecosystem assessments that produce metrics and criteria that will improve ecosystem forecasts and predictions.
Describe the interaction between human activities and ecosystem status and resilience.