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Several case studies are available on topics related to Marine Ecoregional Assessments. 

Peer Review

Identification of priority sites for conservation in the northern Gulf of Mexico; using peer review to improve credibility and quality of methods and outcomes.  The purpose of this ecoregional assessment was to identify sites that represent the biological diversity of the near shore waters of this region using a prioritization method that improved the credibility and support for the outcomes.  To achieve this, the team subjected the methods and results of this process to peer review at several points throughout the process.

Target Selection

West Coast Groundfish Survey Data was incorporated into the Offshore Component of the Pacific Northwest Coast Ecoregional Assessment.  The focus was on reviewing and assessing the utility of the existing groundfish trawl survey data from the National Marine Fisheries Service for use in The Nature Conservancy’s spatially-explicit marine ecoregional planning process. The primary purpose of these surveys has been to collect long-term distribution and abundance information to support management of commercially-harvested managed groundfish species.  We used these data to help select marine fish targets and determine location and relative abundances.
NOTE: In using fisheries-related information in our ecoregional planning process we attempt to broaden our biodiversity conservation toolkit to include multiple management objectives, or ecosystem-based management (E-BM). To learn more about our E-BM approach visit

Pacific Northwest Coast (PNWC) Ecoregion Offshore Classification Methodology.  The PNWC ecoregional assessment team has developed an innovative method for classifying and mapping offshore benthic habitats utilizing a topographic model and existing classifications that characterize depth and benthic substrate to model and generate offshore benthic conservation targets.

Shoreline Habitat Classification for Northern California Current (NCC), Pacific Northwest Coast (PNWC), Northwest Atlantic Coastal and Marine (NAC-marine) Ecoregional Assessments.  Described is an approach for defining shoreline conservation targets based on NOAA's Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) data. This approach has been tested in several marine ecoregion assessments.
Terrestrial, Freshwater and Nearshore Marine Target Selection in the Willamette Valley- Puget Trough- Georgia Basin Ecoregion.  Five teams of experts were assembled to create the target list for the WPG. Three teams focused on terrestrial targets (plants, animals and ecological systems). One team complied nearshore marine targets and another, freshwater targets. Habitat or coarse filter classification systems were developed for both aquatic target identification processes.

Threat Assessment

Synthesis of Commercial Trawl Fishing Effort Data for Pacific Northwest Coast Ecoregional Assessment. This document describes the synthesis of commercial trawl fishing data for use in The Nature Conservancy’s offshore component of the Pacific Northwest Ecoregional Assessment.  Fishery-dependent, commercial trawling is only one of several types of commercial and recreational fishing occurring in this region that should be considered within an ecoregional assessment. However, it is the only type of fishing effort with spatial information that has been uniformly collected in log books. Other types of fishing, such as commercial longline or pot/trap are only tracked at the port where fish are landed, and therefore offer minimal information about the location of fishing activity.
For a complete ecosystem-based assessment it is necessary to include information about human uses of the marine environment in tandem with the biological and physical ecosystem components.  NOTE: In using fisheries-related information in our ecoregional planning process we attempt to broaden our biodiversity conservation toolkit to include multiple management objectives, or ecosystem-based management (E-BM). To learn more about our E-BM approach visit

Assessment of threats to the marine biodiversity of the Caribbean using expert workshops. The assessment of threats to biodiversity priority areas in the Caribbean was determined by experts in a workshop setting. Experts were asked to rank current threats, the persistence of threats to specific seascape and integrity features and future threats. Results were summarized in a web-based report and interactive map and were used to inform priority actions.


Site Selection/ Portfolio Design

      Priority Sites and Spatial Variability for the Carolinian Marine Ecoregional Assessment.  Marxan automated site selection algorithm was employed to enable a dynamic decision support system (DSS) using target data and a suitability index derived from 11 indicators of anthropogenic threat to the system and its targets.

Financial Planning

      MARFIN: A Financial Planning Tool for Coastal and Marine Protected Areas in the Mesoamerican Reef Ecoregion.  A financial model for the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) - called MARFIN - was developed to:  (1) gather and analyze field information to determine the present and future management costs for each category of coastal and marine areas in the MAR; (2) develop a tool that provides present and future financial scenarios for managing the coastal and marine protected areas in the MAR, and that can present different possible scenarios at a national and regional scale; and (3) develop a tool that will support the development of a strategy to secure the funds needed to establish a functional network of coastal and marine areas in the MAR.