The Greater Farallones is a complex region with high biological diversity; nationally significant wildlife breeding and foraging areas; significant commercial and recreational fishing; estuarine habitats; numerous federally, state and locally protected marine and estuarine waters; watershed influences and impacts from eight million San Francisco Bay Area residents. Conservation Science helps solve specific management problems, enhance ecosystem protection efforts, and assist in the interpretation of the ecosystem for the general public. The Conservation Science program ensures that science activities address management issues and are effectively integrated into the education and ecosystem protection programs of the sanctuary and those of other resource trustee agencies.

Implementing an effective conservation science program is a primary management goal of the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS). Interested citizens, graduate students and principal investigators should review the science needs documents and contact the Research Coordinator to discuss their volunteer and research ideas prior to launching a project. Research activities may require a permit from the sanctuary.

Characterization, monitoring, and research assist protection of sanctuary natural resources by promoting understanding of ecosystem structure and function, detecting environmental problems, tracking health and trends of the various habitats and resources in the sanctuary, and contributing to solutions to management issues throughout the GFNMS.

The following three specific areas are the focus of the research and monitoring plan:

  1. Baseline and characterization studies for populations and habitats whose presence were critical in the sanctuary's designation, yet whose distributions and other basic characteristics remain poorly understood;
  2. Directed monitoring studies focusing on indicator species and representative habitats and undertaken jointly with other sanctuaries and agencies; and
  3. Analytical studies aimed at determining the cause of a condition or impacts and predictive studies to understand trends and variability (e.g. in a specific population).

Conservation Science Goals

  1. Increase our knowledge and understanding of the estuarine, nearshore and offshore ecosystems in the GFNMS.
  2. Develop monitoring programs to understand long-term status and trends, detect emerging issues, and guide management decisions, and assess their effectiveness.
  3. Develop research programs to identify and address specific resource and ecosystem management issues and assess effectiveness of management solutions.

Conservation Science Objectives

  1. Assess the sanctuary's information base to identify gaps in knowledge that can affect our ability to manage the area.
  2. Conduct studies of species or marine communities to identify resources most at risk or in need of management attention.
  3. Promote the sanctuary as a site for management-related marine research by providing financial and logistical support for scientific investigations that address critical marine resource and ecosystem protection issues.
  4. Design, conduct, and facilitate characterization, research and monitoring projects that are responsive to management concerns and contribute to improved management of the sanctuary.
  5. Make effective use of characterization, research and monitoring results by incorporating them into education and resource and ecosystem protection programs.
  6. Encourage information exchange and cooperation among all organizations and agencies undertaking management-related research in the sanctuaries to promote more timely and informed management.