Blue Finance used eDNA to assess coral reef biodiversity on and around the Puerto Galera Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Philippines. Results revealed exceptionally high fish species diversity, enabling Blue Finance to track conservation outcomes against key performance indicators.
As we venture into new modes of funding for conservation, it has become even more important to develop conservation targets and track the impact of financing. Monitoring fish in particular is key to determining both coral reef health and livelihood improvements. It is important for us to know that the rarely observed Pompano and brown marbled grouper for example – both commercially important and iconic fish - never seen during our UVC – are in our waters. eDNA has shown us their presence and with that – hope for the regeneration of these and other species, that we will monitor over time.
Blue finance Science Director and Co-founder, Angelique Brathwaite
In collaboration with governments, Blue Finance co-manages a network of MPAs across the globe, working to restore degraded marine habitats and improve livelihoods. At the Puerto Galera site they aim to promote the recovery of coral and fish after the habitat was degraded by unsustainable fishing activities and various physical assaults. Monitoring recovery is key to determining if management methods are working, but monitoring fish community recovery using conventional diver surveys often misses cryptic species and is very resource intensive. A more comprehensive view of biodiversity was needed to assess MPA effectiveness.
In 2022, Blue Finance used NatureMetrics service to sample both within the Puerto Galera MPA and in surrounding areas that have reduced protection status. Analysis of the samples found incredibly high species diversity, detecting over 500 fish taxa.
- Species richness was greater in and around the reef MPA compared to the mangrove conservation area.
- The mangrove and coral reef environments supported clearly distinct species assemblages of fish.
Reef specialists included
- Scaridae = Parrotfish
- Acanthuridae = Tangs, surgeonfishes and unicornfishes
- Pomancentridae = Damselfishes and Clownfishes
The eDNA data provided Blue Finance with a comprehensive baseline of fish diversity against which to track recovery of the ecosystem over time. Via the NatureMetrics Intelligence Platform, Blue Finance will be able track multiple performance indicators on reef health and fish population improvements, validating their work to donors such as the Global Fund for Coral Reefs. Ongoing eDNA monitoring will strengthen Blue Finance's adaptive, evidence-based management of the site.
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