The Coral Triangle, encompassing Indonesia, the Philippines and neighbouring countries, contains the highest density of marine species in the world, and exceptionally high numbers of endemic species (Asaad et al. 2018). Thus conserving its marine life is a priority for conserving all ocean biodiversity.
As part of his PhD, Irawan Asaad reviewed criteria used to designate protected areas internationally, and proposed that eight encompassed the aims of conservation: namely habitat rarity, vulnerability, the importance for ecosystem integrity; habitat representivity within a network; the presence of species that are threatened and/or endemic; sites important for species life-history (e.g., turtle nesting); and species richness (Asaad et al. 2017). Next, he compiled all available biodiversity data, including species richness, fish endemicity, sea turtle migration and nesting areas, and coastal habitats to indicate the locations with the highest biodiversity (Asaad et al. 2018).
Initial results were presented at the Esri Ocean GIS Forum (video of the presentation here). The data can be freely explored online here. These digital maps are comprised of three different web applications:
(1) Biodiversity Features provides comprehensive data on the region’s marine protected areas, biodiversity features, threats and environmental characteristics;
(2) Areas of Importance for Biodiversity Conservation provides spatial distributions of areas of high biodiversity conservation value; and
(3) Priority areas for Coral Triangle Marine Protected Area (MPA) Network Expansion.
Asaad I, Lundquist CJ, Erdmann MV, Costello MJ. 2018. Designating spatial priorities for marine biodiversity conservation in the Coral Triangle. Frontiers in Marine Science 5, 400. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2018.00400
Asaad, I., Lundquist, C. J., Erdmann, M. V., Costello, M. J. 2018. Digital map of the Coral Triangle: An online atlas for marine biodiversity conservation. Earth Syst. Sci. Data, https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2018-80, in review.
Asaad, I., Lundquist, C.J., Erdmann, M.V., Costello, M.J. 2018. Digital map of the Coral Triangle: An online atlas for marine biodiversity conservation. Accessible at https://sites.google.com/view/coral-triangle-digital-map/biodiversity-features
Asaad I, Lundquist CJ, Erdmann MV, Costello MJ. 2018. Delineating priority areas for marine biodiversity conservation in the Coral Triangle. Biological Conservation 222, 198–211. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2018.03.037
Asaad I, Lundquist CJ, Erdmann MV, Costello MJ. 2017. Ecological criteria to identify areas for biodiversity conservation. Biological Conservation, 213, 309-316. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2016.10.007