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Reef ECOlogy and design of Marine PRotected Areas

Final Report Summary - RECOMPRA (Reef ECOlogy and design of Marine PRotected Areas)

The IRSES-RECOMPRA Project aims at consolidating a formerly existing research network established by mutual bilateral relationships among EU (Spain and Italy) and South-American (Brazil and Argentina) labs which common objective is to study specific aspects of reef ecology, in order to provide sound criteria for the design, monitoring and management of marine protected areas (MPAs) in a scenario of global change. The project is organised in one Work Package (WP1) devoted to coordination activities, plus 3 thematic Work Packages covering the following topics: (WP2) reef fish mobility and connectivity, (WP3) functional response of reef environments to disturbance in scenarios of global change, and (WP4) MPAs network design for ecological function, marine governance and ecosystem services. During the whole duration of the project a total of 39 secondments between partners (20 ERs, 18 ESRs and 1 TECH) involving 34 people have been achieved, amounting 82.27 full-time equivalent months. The actually accomplished stays compares favourably with the planned number of persons (16 ERs, 14 ESRs and 2 TECH, 32 in total) but represent only 55.2% of time planned in the original schedule (149 months). This departure from the planned schedule roots in a variety of reasons, which can be summarized in the fact that the mean duration of each stay was 2.11 (range 0.87-4.10) months instead of the average 4.52 (range 1-6) months per secondment originally planned. This change, however, was fully balanced out with the success of all the research, network and training activities developed so far. Research and exchanges have been developed in five MPAs: Cabo de Palos – Islas Hormigas marine reserve (Murcia, Spain), Gulf of Castellammare Trawling Ban (Sicily, Italy), Costa dos Corais (Pernambuco and Alagoas states, Brazil), Abrolhos Marine National Park (Bahia, Brazil) and Península Valdés Protected Area (Chubut, Argentina), as planned. The topics approached have been: response of reef fishes to protection measures (with emphasis on apex predators and shoaling pelagic species), fish mobility (acoustic telemetry, external tagging, geometric morphometry, etc.), fish behaviour (visual and video observations, accelerometers, acoustic ecology), response of invasive species to protection measures, coastal trophic ecology, functional changes due to fishing (abundance and biomass of top predators, sea urchins, herbivory), reef habitat mapping, and MPA governance. The expected outputs of this project are 24 articles - 22 research articles and 2 review articles, (from which 5 already published and 2 submitted to scientific journals), and 3 joint research proposals (1 already funded, and 2 submitted to national funding agencies). As during the last 2 years we accomplished as much as 82.1% of seconded persons and 60.3% of time spent abroad, and this mostly during the last year of the project (51% of both persons and time in 2015); most products of the IRSES-RECOMPRA project (either publications, attendance to scientific conferences, research proposals submitted to funding calls, graduate, MSc or PhD theses, etc.) are to be delivered in the following months.