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Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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Introduction

While Part I describes the general process for effective monitoring and progress evaluation, Part II uses a few example habitats and species to illustrate how the general process guidance would be applied. The following descriptions draw on elements detailed in Part I of this report (e.g., identifying broad goal(s), measureable objectives, conceptual model(s), scales, metrics linked to objectives, targets informed by research, control and/or reference sites, applicable constraints, suitable sampling design, data management and sharing procedures). For some restored habitats and species, conceptual models are well understood and can effectively frame restoration monitoring. For many, monitoring is currently guided by well-established methods. This part of the report provides examples of good practices for six habitats and species groups of concern in the Gulf of Mexico: oyster reefs, tidal wetlands, seagrasses, birds, sea turtles, and marine mammals.

The sections presented here are meant to act as a guide and reference, rather than a comprehensive manual, for restoration administrators and funders setting monitoring requirements and for practitioners tasked with monitoring habitat or species recovery. Although the release of oil during the DWH spill was mostly offshore in deep water, most of the restoration expertise and experience has been in coastal ecosystems. Therefore, Part II of this report focuses mostly on monitoring coastal restoration efforts, although these are not the only habitats and species in need of restoration attention. Guidance also exists for monitoring restoration of other habitats and species that may have been affected by the DWH spill. For example, beaches and barrier islands (e.g., Nelson, 1993; NRC, 1995; Brandon et al., 2013; Schlacher et al., 2014), coral reefs (e.g., Thayer et al., 2005; Precht, 2006; Edwards, 2010; Johnson et al., 2011; NOAA, 2014), deep sea habitats (e.g., Thayer et al., 2005; Shepard, 2014; Van Dover et al., 2014), mangroves (e.g., Field, 1999; Lewis, 2000; Thayer et al., 2005), offshore/marine fish (e.g., Peterson et al., 2003; Powers et al., 2003; Alford et al., 2014), and the water column (e.g., Thayer et al., 2005). Monitoring fisheries management is beyond the scope of this report; readers are advised to seek guidance from the National Marine Fisheries Service, for example on observer programs, electronic monitoring and reporting, or seafood safety monitoring,1 and from the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.2

Each of the sections provided here includes discussion on habitat or species-specific restoration objectives, uncertainties that currently hinder decision making, elements of a projectlevel monitoring and assessment plan, and a table that provides a list of potential metrics that can be used to measure progress toward example restoration objectives. Guidance presented in the tables is based on available literature (or on the committee’s judgement, and indicated as such). In addition, the tables present guidance on broadly applicable project-level habitat or species3 monitoring where there is a relatively high level of consensus in the literature on metrics that are best able to assess restoration for the purposes of construction, performance, and monitoring for adaptive management (see Chapter 3). Furthermore, as discussed in Chapter 4, assessing restoration progress at a regional or program level will require monitoring to be undertaken in an integrated and coordinated fashion for each habitat type and species across

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1 NMFS National Observer Program: http://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/observer-home/; NMFS Electronic Monitoring Systems information: https://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/advanced-technology/electronic-monitoring/index, http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/reg_svcs/Councils/ccc_2013/K_FisheriesMonitoringRoadmap.pdf, http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/reg_svcs/Councils/ccc_2013/K_NMFS_EM_WhitePapers.pdf; NMFS seafood safety surveillance: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/deepwater_horizon/index.html.

2 The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council prepares fishery management plans to manage resources between state waters and the 200-mile limit of federal Gulf waters: http://gulfcouncil.org. The Council guides fisheries management with ten key national standards applicable in all federal waters. Stock assessments are used to monitor fish status, as required by the Sustainable Fisheries Act, are completed by NOAA, and inform Council management decisions on catch rates and allocation.

3 In these sections, we refer to species as the subject of restoration monitoring, rather than populations, because restoration focus tends to be on species recovery. In particular, protected species have federal recovery plans that detail actions needed to increase their numbers in order to down-list or delist species from protected status.

Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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the Gulf of Mexico. Manning et al. (2006) state that “large-scale, ambitious restoration projects will not happen by accident . . . and functioning ecosystems will not be reconstructed by chance through the cumulative effects of small-scale ad hoc restoration efforts.”4 Furthermore, creating a restoration vision that is shared by the larger Gulf-region funding agencies and programs, articulating that vision through explicit objectives, and coordinating monitoring metrics and data assessment protocols improves the chance of restoring large-scale ecosystem biodiversity, structure, process, function, and services. There is substantial benefit to be realized from monitoring the recovery of interconnected resources in an overlapping fashion with other restoration monitoring efforts.5 To facilitate scaling up from project-level monitoring, the tables within each section below provide suggested metrics for each habitat and species that the committee judges could be measured for coordinated restoration projects across the Gulf (see Chapter 4). Note that although the metrics in “Program Level” columns may help assess restoration beyond the project scale, or across the Gulf itself, they may not provide priority information at smaller scales, depending on project objectives. For example, measuring the number of eggs produced per sea turtle in a given year improves understanding of status and trends beyond the scope of the project level by indicating population- or species-level change and informing Gulf-wide sea turtles restoration efforts.

Many monitoring programs have not enabled larger scale restoration assessments specifically because they failed to employ necessary data management procedures, and very few have planned and provided adequate financial support for this consideration (Lindenmayer and Likens, 2010; see Chapter 5). The sections that follow do not discuss data management and stewardship because the guidance is provided in Chapter 5 of the report and applies to all restoration monitoring independent of objectives or habitat type. It is critical to ensure that collected data will be managed, secured, and made available in a way that promotes their quality and suitability for restoration analysis, assessment, synthesis, and ultimately decision support (see Chapters 6 and 7). Furthermore, this report (Part I and Part II) only briefly discusses monitoring for ecosystem services, because the committee was asked to focus on ecological monitoring. However, monitoring for ecosystem services is important to consider as part of restoration monitoring and evaluation; see NRC (2012, Chapter 3; 2013, Chapter 5) for general reference, as well as Hijuelos and Hemmerling (2015) for a description of human systems sampling as well as information for Louisiana’s sampling protocol for physical and biological metrics.

REFERENCES

Alford, J.B., M.S. Peterson, and C.C. Green, eds. 2014. Impacts of Oil Spill Disasters on Marine Habitats and Fisheries in North America. CRC Marine Biology Series. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Brandon, T., N. Gleason, C. Simenstad, and C. Tanner. 2013. Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project Monitoring Framework. Prepared for the Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project. Olympia: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Seattle, WA: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Edwards, A.J., ed. 2010. Reef Rehabilitation Manual. St Lucia, Australia: Coral Reef Targeted Research and Capacity Building for Management Program.

Field, C.D. 1999. Rehabilitation of mangrove ecosystems: An overview. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 37(8):383-392.

Hijuelos, A.C., and S.A. Hemmerling. 2015. Coastwide and Barataria Basin Monitoring Plans for Louisiana’s System-Wide Assessment and Monitoring Program (SWAMP). Prepared for and funded by the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) under Task Order 6, Contract No. 2503-12-58. Baton Rouge, LA: Water Institute of the Gulf.

Johnson, M. E., C. Lustic, E. Bartels, I. B. Baums, D. S. Gilliam, L. Larson, D. Lirman, M. W. Miller, K. Nedimyer, and S. Schopmeyer. 2011. Caribbean Acropora Restoration Guide: Best Practices for Propagation and Population Enhancement. Arlington, VA: The Nature Conservancy.

Lewis, R.R. 2000. Ecologically based goal setting in mangrove forest and tidal marsh restoration. Ecological Engineering, 15(3):191-198.

Lindenmayer, D.B. and G.E. Likens. 2010. The science and application of ecological

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4 For example, see Hijuelos et al. (2013) for a description of Louisiana’s cross-habitat and species restoration assessment framework, which includes monitoring atmospheric, land-based, water-based, and wildlife parameters.

5 For example, monitoring seagrass habitat and prey (such as blue crab stocks) can help explain sea turtle response to restoration along with turtle-specific monitoring practices.

Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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monitoring. Biological Conservation 143:1317-1328.

Manning, A.D., D.B. Lindenmayer, and J. Fischer. 2006. Stretch goals and backcasting: Approaches for overcoming barriers to large-scale ecological restoration. Restoration Ecology 14(4):487-492.

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). 2014. National Coral Reef Monitoring Plan. Silver Spring, MD: NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program. http://docs.lib.noaa.gov/noaa_documents/CoRIS/CRCP/noaa_crcp_national_coral_reef_monitoring_plan_2014.pdf.

NRC (National Research Council). 1995. Beach Nourishment and Protection. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

NRC. 2012. Approaches for Ecosystem Services Valuation for the Gulf of Mexico After the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

NRC. 2013. An Ecosystem Services Approach to Assessing the Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Nelson, W.G. 1993. Beach restoration in the southeastern US: Environmental effects and biological monitoring. Ocean and Coastal Management 19(2):157-182.

Peterson, C.H., J.H. Grabowski, and S.P. Powers. 2003. Estimated enhancement of fish production resulting from restoring oyster reef habitat: quantitative valuation. Marine Ecology Progress Series 264:249-264.

Powers, S.P., J.H. Grabowski, C.H. Peterson, and W.J. Lindberg. 2003. Estimating enhancement of fish production by offshore artificial reefs: Uncertainty exhibited by divergent scenarios. Marine Ecology Progress Series 264:265-277.

Precht, W.F. ed. 2006. Coral reef restoration handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Schlacher, T.A., D.S. Schoeman, A.R. Jones, J.E. Dugan, D.M. Hubbard, O. Defeo, C.H. Peterson, M.A. Weston, B. Maslo, A.D. Olds, and F. Scapini. 2014. Metrics to assess ecological condition, change, and impacts in sandy beach ecosystems. Journal of Environmental Management 144:322-335.

Shepard, A.N. 2014. Restoring deepwater coral ecosystems and fisheries after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Pp. 147-170 in Interrelationships between Corals and Fisheries. S.A. Bortone, ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. doi: 10.1201/b17159.

Thayer, G.W., T.A. McTigue, R.J. Salz, D.H. Merkey, F.M. Burrows, and P.F. Gayaldo, eds. 2005. Science-Based Restoration Monitoring of Coastal Habitats, Volume Two: Tools for Monitoring Coastal Habitats. NOAA Coastal Ocean Program Decision Analysis Series No. 23. Silver Spring, MD: NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science.

Van Dover, C.L., J. Aronson, L. Pendleton, S. Smith, S. Arnaud-Haond, D. Moreno-Mateos, E. Barbier, D. Billett, K. Bowers, R. Danovaro, and A. Edwards. 2014. Ecological restoration in the deep sea: Desiderata. Marine Policy 44:98-106.

Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
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Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
×
Page 119
Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
×
Page 120
Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
×
Page 121
Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23476.
×
Page 122
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Gulf Coast communities and natural resources suffered extensive direct and indirect damage as a result of the largest accidental oil spill in US history, referred to as the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill. Notably, natural resources affected by this major spill include wetlands, coastal beaches and barrier islands, coastal and marine wildlife, seagrass beds, oyster reefs, commercial fisheries, deep benthos, and coral reefs, among other habitats and species. Losses include an estimated 20% reduction in commercial fishery landings across the Gulf of Mexico and damage to as much as 1,100 linear miles of coastal salt marsh wetlands.

This historic spill is being followed by a restoration effort unparalleled in complexity and magnitude in U.S. history. Legal settlements in the wake of DWH led to the establishment of a set of programs tasked with administering and supporting DWH-related restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. In order to ensure that restoration goals are met and money is well spent, restoration monitoring and evaluation should be an integral part of those programs. However, evaluations of past restoration efforts have shown that monitoring is often inadequate or even absent.

Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico identifies best practices for monitoring and evaluating restoration activities to improve the performance of restoration programs and increase the effectiveness and longevity of restoration projects. This report provides general guidance for restoration monitoring, assessment, and synthesis that can be applied to most ecological restoration supported by these major programs given their similarities in restoration goals. It also offers specific guidance for a subset of habitats and taxa to be restored in the Gulf including oyster reefs, tidal wetlands, and seagrass habitats, as well as a variety of birds, sea turtles, and marine mammals.

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