Next week, we’re hosting a workshop to identify monitoring priorities for assessing population consequences of disturbance!

This is part of our PCOD+ project (sponsored by the Office of Naval Research), which is focused on overcoming the most important impediments that have limited the implementation of the PCoD (population consequences of disturbance) framework. One key task as part of that (led by Cormac Booth) is to develop ways to fill knowledge gaps, principally the lack of data on the relationship between exposure to disturbance and individual health, and between health and vital rates (the ability to survive and breed).

The goal of this workshop is to develop a list of potential responsible variables that could be collected as part of a monitoring program to inform a PCoD analysis of the effects of Navy activities on marine mammals.

This will build from a comprehensive survey of the literature to identify a suite of suitable response variables that could be monitored using established survey techniques or techniques that are currently in development. We will also present the preliminary results from an initial sensitivity analysis, the goal of which will help to identify which of the potential demographic response variables are most suitable for inclusion in a monitoring program. The sensitivities of other response variables will be explored after the workshop, as new models are developed or become available.

It is expected that this workshop will result in an expanded list of response variables and links between these and changes in behavior, health and vital rates. In addition, the methods, platforms, feasibility, cost and precision of different approaches for monitoring these response variables will be discussed. Later in the project, response variables will be ranked by their sensitivity to the changes in vital rates predicted to occur as a result of disturbance, their practicality and the precision with which they can be measured.

We’re excited to have an amazing team of experts across marine mammal science, descending upon Santa Cruz, California – where we’re looking forward to getting to grips with these big questions!