Pacific Conservation Biology Pacific Conservation Biology Society
A journal dedicated to conservation and wildlife management in the Pacific region.
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Traditional ecological knowledge, shifting baselines, and conservation of Fijian molluscs

Karen Bao A and Joshua Drew A B

A Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology (EEEB), Columbia University, 1200 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10027, USA.

B Corresponding author. Email: j.drew@columbia.edu

Pacific Conservation Biology - http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/PC16016
Submitted: 16 April 2016  Accepted: 27 August 2016   Published online: 14 October 2016

Abstract

Understanding a region’s ecological history is crucial in formulating conservation plans. In the absence of conventional datasets, historical data and traditional ecological knowledge of local communities can elucidate trends over time and help set goals for preservation and restoration. These methods can contribute to the conservation of biologically and culturally significant species, including coral reef molluscs, in the South Pacific, which have experienced intensified threats such as overfishing and habitat degradation in recent decades. Through fisher interviews in a small coastal community in Fiji, we investigate changes in distribution, biomass, and human perception of common mollusc populations in a Fijian reef. We found evidence of a decline in mollusc populations, but only older fishers with more fishing experience perceived this decline, suggesting a shift in baseline perceptions of biodiversity.

Additional keywords: artisanal fisheries, benthic invertebrates, historical ecology


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