Project to Research Marine Protected Areas in Patagonia
WASHINGTON, April 26, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Vreni Haussermann, Ph.D., scientific director of the Huinay Scientific Field Station, which is located in the Comau Fjord in Chilean Patagonia, has been awarded a 2011 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation. Her project will survey the rich species diversity within the Chilean fjord region and apply statistical techniques and other tools to identify biological significant areas for protection.
The Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation is a prestigious program that gives recipients U.S. $150,000 for a three-year scientific research or conservation project designed to address critical challenges facing our oceans. Dr. Haussermann will use this fellowship to focus on the data needed to form a network of marine protected areas, which will conserve unique ocean ecosystems in southern Chile.
"The Pew Marine Fellowship will allow me to conduct important research needed to establish strong and sustainable resource management in this region," said Dr. Haussermann. "We have a serious lack of knowledge about the Chilean fjords which makes protecting important marine species very difficult. With more information and better management, I am certain we can preserve a beautiful area of our world."
The Chilean fjord region, an area with a coastline of more than 80,000 kilometers is the most extensive fjord region in the world and has been well preserved until recently. Harsh climate and remote location have shielded the coastal waters from major human impacts in the past. Recent economic developments such as salmon farming and infrastructure projects have begun to impact the marine life in this unique area. However, since marine species have never been surveyed in much of the coast, limited data creates challenges for conservation planning.
Dr. Haussermann's fellowship seeks to help establish a network of marine protected areas to research and measure the species in the area and protect the region from further ecosystem degradation. She will utilize specialized software for conservation planning in a way that can detect large gaps in knowledge and data. An analysis of the results will then be produced to identify priority sites for marine protected areas in the region. The findings from her research will be shared with key decision makers and non-governmental organizations in hopes of increasing awareness of the importance of sustainable management for marine life.
"Establishing marine protected areas is an important part of the effort to protect ocean life in the ecologically significant Chilean fjord region," said Joshua S. Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environment Group. "Dr. Haussermann's project will fill a large gap of missing research and data that is crucial to ensuring the long-term preservation of this region."
Dr. Haussermann received her diploma in biology and her Ph.D. in marine zoology in 2004 from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich in Germany. The laboratory parts of her Ph.D. work were carried out at the State Collection of Zoology in Munich and at the University of Kansas. In 2005 she was the winner of the International Hintelmann Award for outstanding research in taxonomy. She was the organizer and main editor of the book Marine Benthic Fauna of Chilean Patagonia, the first comprehensive marine field guide for bottom dwelling organisms in the fjord region.
The Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation has awarded 119 fellowships to individuals from 30 countries. The Pew Fellowships in Marine Conservation fund science and other projects that address critical challenges in the conservation of the ocean, including communication of project information to increase awareness of global marine issues. Through a rigorous nomination and review process, an international committee of marine specialists selects Pew Fellows based on the strengths of their proposed projects, including their potential to protect ocean environments. Unique and timely projects led by outstanding professionals in their fields are chosen annually, targeting individuals who are mid-career. The program is managed by the Pew Environment Group, which is based in Washington, D.C.
More information about each of the 2011 Pew Fellows in Marine Conservation, including photographs and a video about the recipients, is available at www.pewmarinefellows.org.
The Pew Environment Group is the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-governmental organization that works globally to establish pragmatic, science-based policies that protect our oceans, preserve our wildlands and promote clean energy. www.PewEnvironment.org
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SOURCE Pew Environment Group