Photo Credit: Orange County Coastkeeper

We are pleased to congratulate DataLab affiliates Drs. Ryan Meyer and M.V. Eitzel from the UC Davis Center for Community and Citizen Science on securing supplemental funds to extend their interdisciplinary project “Analyzing use of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) from a citizen and community science dataset.” 

DataLab’s data scientists Drs. Nick Ulle and Pamela Reynolds began collaborating with Meyer and Eitzel in Spring 2021 to analyze data from 2012-2020 collected by approximately 2,000 volunteer surveyors on the recreational use of over 100 sites both inside and outside MPAs along the coast of California. These data are collated by the MPA Watch Program to help California policymakers manage the state’s ocean and coastal habitats. The research team noted that, in general, human activities which do not remove coastal resources are more common than activities that do. In addition, by employing occupancy modeling, the team found that data from these volunteer surveyors can be effectively used to determine significant differences between human activities conducted both inside and outside of MPAs: recreational boating and tidepooling were more likely to occur within MPAs, while onshore fishing was less likely. These findings demonstrate the importance of citizen and community science datasets to understanding regulation compliance and the development of effective public policy. A report from this initial collaboration with DataLab was submitted to the California Department of Fisheries and Wildlife in January 2022 for use in the state’s Decadal Management Review of Marine Protected Areas.

Funding for the project is provided by the Resources Legacy Fund, through a larger grant from California’s Once-Through Cooling mitigation funds, administered by the California Ocean Protection Council. Extending this project will allow a deeper look into how MPA Watch data can speak to the number (rather than presence or absence) of people who are engaging in various activities along the coast, and how these patterns change seasonally. The team will also incorporate the data from 2021 to examine any effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on coastal use. 

Partners and funders for this effort have included the California Ocean Protection Council, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the UC Davis Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior, the Resources Legacy Fund, the Green Info Network, and of course, the many partners who make up the MPA Watch Network.

To read more about the project and view the full report, click here.

Drs. Ryan Meyer & M.V. Eitzel of the UC Davis Center for Community and Citizen Science