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Ecological effects of recreational diving in subtropical Marine Protected Areas

Grant number: 17/22273-0
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): October 01, 2018
Effective date (End): September 30, 2020
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology
Principal Investigator:Guilherme Henrique Pereira Filho
Grantee:Vinicius Jose Giglio Fernandes
Home Institution: Instituto de Saúde e Sociedade (ISS). Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP). Campus Baixada Santista. Santos , SP, Brazil


Diving tourism represents the main recreational use of marine protected areas worldwide, providing benefits to the society. However, the activity has caused unsustainable negative impacts at many locations, reducing the diversity and complexity of benthic organisms and fish assemblages. This project is inserted in the context of a FAPESP grant (Process 2016/14017-0) which aims to understand patterns and processes related to the marine biodiversity at different reef environments. Our objective is to access the effects of recreational diving in destinations of the state of São Paulo. An unprecedented evaluation will be carried out in a marine protected area, the Alcatrazes Archipelago Wildlife Refuge, to evaluate the effects of scuba diving on benthic organisms and fish assemblages in subtropical reefs using the before-after control-impact - BACI approach. Randomized photoquadrats will be conducted to verify the spatio-temporal variation in the benthic organisms assemblage. Additionally, colonies of the coral Mussismilia hispida will be monitored and tested as a bioindicator of reef health. Regarding the fish survey, visual census will be conducted to verify temporal and spatial patterns on assemblage. Observations will be conducted to verify changes in the behavior of omnivorous species. The impacts of a second recreational diving modality, the spearfishing, also will be investigated. The fish captures will be described to the surroundings of Queimada Grande Island. The perceptions of spearfishing actors will be assessed regarding the impacts of the activity on fishes and benthic community. The relevance of this project can be evidenced by the understanding of effects on biodiversity caused by different types of recreational diving. This set of information will introduce important subsidies to the elaboration of management strategies from recreational diving, such as carrying capacity, zoning, and environmental information. Finally, we highlight that the institution implementing the proposal (Imar/Unifesp) is supported by the Biodiversity and Marine and Coastal Ecology postgraduate program. The technical and scientific profile of the applicant is in line with institutional demands for the training of human resources foreseen in national policies and goals.

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