ESR Special

Oceanographic remote sensing and biological diversity estimates can be combined in Geographic Information Systems to model the pelagic environment Image: Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, Duke University

Geospatial approaches to support pelagic conservation planning and adaptive management


Pelagic ecosystems provide essential habitat for protected species, play a vital role in global climate regulation, and support productive fisheries. Place-based management in the open ocean faces unique challenges in attaching boundaries around temporally and spatially dynamic systems that span broad geographic scales and multiple jurisdictions in the ‘high seas’. However, recent conceptual and technological advances have supported the information requirements necessary to map and monitor the oceanographic processes that create spatially explicit patterns of ocean productivity, protected species abundance and biodiversity in the open ocean.


This Theme Section of ESR seeks to bridge the gap between geospatial science and marine conservation in order to consider the development of innovative methods necessary to support effective marine conservation planning strategies for pelagic ecosystems. This Theme Section assembles papers presented in a special session at the Society for Conservation Biology conference, convened in July of 2012 (see


Editorial Team for the Theme Section: Dr. David Hyrenbach, Hawaii Pacific University (Guest Editor); Dr. Patrick Halpin, Duke Universty (Guest Editor); Daniel Dunn, Duke University (Guest Editor); Dr. Sara Maxwell, Stanford University (Guest Editor);Center for Ocean Solutions, Stanford University (Guest and Contact Editor; lwedding(at)




Becker EA, Forney KA, Foley DG, Smith RC, Moore TJ, Barlow J

Predicting seasonal density patterns of California cetaceans based on habitat models

ESR 23:1-22 | Full text in pdf format


Pereira JJ, Schultz ET, Auster PJ

Geospatial analysis of habitat use by silver hake Merluccius bilinearis in the Gulf of Maine

ESR 23:219-227 | Full text in pdf format


Fujioka E, Halpin PN

Spatio-temporal assessments of biodiversity in the high seas

ESR 24:181-190 | Full text in pdf format


Dransfield A, Hines E, McGowan J, Holzman B, Nur N, Elliott M, Howar J, Jahncke J

Where the whales are: using habitat modeling to support changes in shipping regulations within National Marine Sanctuaries in Central California

ESR 26:39-57 | Full text in pdf format


Maxwell SM, Ban NC, Morgan LE

Pragmatic approaches for effective management of pelagic marine protected areas

ESR 26:59-74 | Full text in pdf format


Forney KA, Becker EA, Foley DG, Barlow J, Oleson EM

Habitat-based models of cetacean density and distribution in the central North Pacific

ESR 27:1-20 | Full text in pdf format