Joint call for proposals | SOUTHWEST INDIAN OCEAN MARINE PROTECTED AREAS: ecological connectivity to maximize biodiversity conservation 2023

Ecological connectivity to maximise biodiversity conservation between marine protected areas in the Southwest Indian Ocean - SIOMPA 2023

The Southwest Indian Ocean (SWIO) basin is a globally recognized hotspot of endemism and biodiversity. It is home to many spatially fragmented Marine Protected Areas (MPA), which are essential in maintaining marine ecosystems. A crucial element, which requires further investigation, is the ecological connectivity, often highlighted in the design of MPAs and the guarantees of conservation success.

This ecological connectivity governs the exchange of marine species moving across spatially fragmented habitats during their different life stages. The establishment of a powerful regional network of MPAs would help to promote the notion of linking management actions as well as to develop daring initiatives to achieve conservation goals.

Detailed knowledge of the distribution, movements, and interactions of marine species with their oceanic environment between different marine protected areas is essential for implementing effective marine spatial planning strategies, for assessing the effectiveness of marine protected areas, and identifying new priority areas to be protected.

This collaborative regional research call for proposals will have the broader objective of supporting projects studying the evolution, functioning and dynamics of the socio-ecosystems of the region, in all their diversity, and will draw on a wide range of scientific disciplines (from physical, biological, and ecological sciences to human, social and economic sciences), through the following questions:

  1. What harmonised environmental monitoring of the MPAs of the area is needed to support both ecosystem and biodiversity conservation and benefits to human societies?
  2. How are ecosystems of the region structured and/or connected?
  3. What are the various anthropogenic impacts on the ecological states of ecosystems and what measures should be proposed to reduce these impacts?
  4. What are the links between the ecological state of ecosystems, protection measures and human populations of the  studied socio-ecosystems?

This transdisciplinary regional call for research aims at addressing the efficiency of marine biodiversity conservation measures with inputs from research on connectivity and expected impacts of climate change for instance. This call is supported by Agence Francaise de développement (AFD), Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR), Fundo Nacional de Investigação (FNI) from Mozambique, National Research Foundation (NRF) from South Africa, National Research Fund (NRF) from Kenya, Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH). Each funding organisation will support teams from its country. Moreover, AFD may support teams in the following countries : Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius.