Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


To meet the challenges of marine conservation, the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation (CMBC) was established at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) in May 2001. Its goals are:

  • Investigation: Assess the state of marine ecosystems now and in the past and develop predictive models for the future
  • Education: Train new marine biodiversity and conservation scientists in the United States and around the world
  • Integration: Develop novel interdisciplinary approaches linking the biological, physical, social and informatic sciences
  • Communication: Increase public understanding of scientific issues and provide sound scientific analyses to policy makers
  • Application: Design technically sophisticated, regionally appropriate strategies to prevent and reverse biodiversity collapse

Dr. Lisa Levin, Director

Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation

There are 202 publications in this collection, published between 2001 and 2018.
Capstone Papers (189)

The Issues of Solid Waste Management on Small Islands: Malapascua Island Philippines as a Case Study

The issues, that small islands face, regarding the disposal and management of their solid waste are serious. Although not all small islands face the same problems, it is worth looking at one island in particular as a case study to get a better understanding of some of these issues. Malapascua Island in the Philippines, a small island, has over a very short time gone through a period of rapid development due to tourism. Malapascua Island’s solid waste disposal

infrastructure has not kept up with this rapid development. The management and disposal of solid waste has now become a serious issue that needs addressing. Malapascua’s current issues create a platform for the study of the causes as well as possible solutions to the issue of solid waste management. The approach taken is to describe well-developed solid waste management systems contrasted with the current problems faced on Malapascua to examine if there is any way of adapting modern systems to serve Malapascua’s current and future needs.

A Scientist’s Guide to Philanthropy: Bridging the Gap between Marine Conservation Biologists & Funding

This capstone report involves the relationship between marine conservation biologists and funding. The goal is to help scientists pitch their projects in a way that compels potential philanthropists dedicated to ocean conservation to financially contribute by investigating transferable communication tools that scientists can utilize. This has been done through conducting interviews with various marine foundations and institutions’ program departments. Upon conducting extensive research in marine fundraising, it becomes clear that there has been a shift in the philanthropic landscape that requires scientists and labs to think differently about cultivating relationships with donors. Ocean science research has been reliant upon now dwindling large scale financial support from federal agencies. This research highlights the importance of cultivating relationships with philanthropists and marine conservation foundations through new and different communication approaches.

"CONNECTIVITY": A Documentary/Series of Transmedia Research Projects

This project is a transmedia research series that is captured in the stunning format of Ultra-High Definition, or 4k. We explore how life on Planet Ocean, and specifically around the Pacific basin, is inseparably intertwined. Scripps scientists are interviewed about their respective fields of research, and weigh in on their interests, concerns, and the broader scale implications of their work in oceanography. Common anthropogenic stressors take many forms but for this documentary will include (1) Near coastal land development can increase siltation and nutrient loading, which can smother sensitive coral reefs (2) Unsustainable fishing practices are depleting fish stocks in many areas around the Pacific (3) Plastic micro-particles are accumulating in the subtropical oceanic gyres, and overall ocean health is declining (4) Changing ocean chemistry (ocean acidification) is having a direct effect on aqua farms on the Pacific Northwest Coast (5) Whales and fisheries interact, from humpbacks to false killer whales (6) Acoustic soundscapes - from deep ocean ecosystems to shallow reef environments and how sound may be affecting biodiversity (7) Human use of oil-based products is causing increasingly less subtle planetary shifts, adding toxicity to the ecosystem and fueling climate change.

186 more worksshow all
Conference Reports (4)

Conference Report: Marine Biodiversity in the Present:The Known, Unknown and Unknowable

Funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's, Known, Unknown and Unknowable project. This is the first in a series of three conferences held at Scripps Institution of Oceanography to explore the structure and knowledge of marine systems. The report describes how the conference was organized and the results of the conference.

Marine Biodiversity: Using the Past to Inform the Future

This report covers the second conference supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's Known, Unknown and Unknowable Program. The conference goal is to explore the structure and limits to knowledge of marine ecosystems and implications of the state of our knowledge to research, policy and society at large.

This conference highlighted the importance of understanding past ecosystems and how they have changed, and asked how we can make use of this historical perspective to better understand the present and to safeguard and manage to future.

The future of marine biodiversity: The Known Unknown and Unknowable

The reports on the third in a series of conferences funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's, Known, Unknown and Unknowable program. The purpose of the conference was to explore two main aspects of marine biodiversity in the near (2020) future: (a) projections on anthropogenic drivers and (b)projections on impacts on marine biodiversity.

1 more workshow all
Information Series (4)

Snapshot Assessment Protocol (SnAP): Guidelines, Tools, and Tips for RapidlyCharacterizing Small-Scale Fisheries.

Recognizing the need for improved coordination, the Small-scale and Artisanal Fisheries Research Network (SAFRN), at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation (CMBC), was established in 2010 by graduate students as an interdisciplinary hub of students, researchers, and faculty studying small-scale fisheries (SSF). Our goals are to: enhance communication and collaboration across disciplines, projects, and sectors; share research guidelines and methodologies; and connect research to meaningful management actions.SAFRN has developed the Snapshot Assessment Protocol (SnAP), an interdisciplinary, standardized toolkit for describing SSF holistically, including ecological, social, cultural, economic, and governance-related aspects of these fisheries and the related communities. SnAP is a key part of our 2011-2012 project, “Coordinating Research for Sustaining Artisanal Fisheries”, funded by the Waitt Foundation.

1 more workshow all
Other Recent Work (2)

Analysis of complete miochondrial DNA sequences of three members of the Montastraea annularis coral species complex (Cnidaria, Anthozoa, Scleractinia)

Complete mitochondrial nucleotide sequences of two individuals each of Montastraea annularis,Montastraea faveolata, and Montastraea franksi were determined. Gene composition and order di•ered substantially from the sea anemone Metridium senile, but were identical to that of the phylogenetically distant coral genus Acropora. However, characteristics of the noncoding regions di•ered between the two scleractinian genera. Among members of the M. annularis complex, only 25 of 16,134 base pair positions were variable. Sixteen of these occurred in one colony ofM. franksi, which (together with additional data) indicates the existence of multiple divergent mitochondrial lineages in this species. Overall, rates of evolution for these mitochondrial genomes were extremely slow (0.03–0.04% per million years based on the fossil record of the M. annularis complex). At higher taxonomic levels, patterns of genetic divergence and synonymous/nonsynonymous substitutions suggest non-neutral and unequal rates of evolution between the two lineages to which Montastraea and Acropora belong.

Quantifying scales of spatial variability in algal turf assemblages on coral reefs

Quantifying variability over multiple spatial scales is a fundamental goal in ecology,providing insight into which scale-dependent processes most strongly influence community structure.On coral reefs, the ubiquitous turf algae are the primary food source for herbivores and competitorsfor space with corals. Turf algae will likely increase in the future, because they thriveunder conditions that reduce coral cover. Turfs are typically treated as a single homogeneousfunctional group, but analyzing them as a variable assemblage is more informative. We used ahierarchical sampling design to quantify 4 scales of variability in turf assemblages from centimeters(within single dead coral heads) to kilometers (across islands) on the rarely studied LhaviyaniAtoll, Maldives. We used 4 metrics, each reflecting different ecological processes: percent cover,canopy height, richness, and assemblage composition. For most of these metrics, variability wassignificant at multiple spatial scales. However, for all metrics, the smallest scale (centimeters)explained the greatest proportion of overall variability. The least variability in cover, canopyheight, and richness occurred among sites (100s meters), suggesting that processes such as competition,predation, and vegetative growth are heterogeneous at small scales. In contrast, assemblagecomposition was least variable at the largest scale (kilometers), suggesting that oceanographicprocesses or a well-mixed propagule supply reduce variability. With declining coral andincreasing cover of turf on reefs worldwide, it will become increasingly important to understandthe dynamics of coral−turf competitive interactions. However, because turf assemblages arehighly variable at small spatial scales, these interactions require more detailed consideration.