Biodiversity is essential to the functioning of all life on earth, including in the Southern Ocean. Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) are those areas deemed the most important places in the world for the global persistence of species and ecosystems. In 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published A Global Standard for the Identification of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA Standard), which established a consultative, science-based process for identifying KBAs. Working with the IUCN and SCAR Ant-ICON Scientific Research Programme and EG-BAMM, we held an expert workshop focused on mapping potential KBAs in the Southern Ocean using publicly available animal tracking data. The SCAR, IUCN, and broader Southern Ocean science, policy and conservation community were invited to the workshop. In this workshop we presented ongoing work using the RAATD (the Retrospective Analysis of Antarctic Tracking Data) dataset towards identifying potential KBA areas across subantarctic and Antarctic waters. To complete the KBA analysis, we used the track2KBA R package which is an established method that uses tracking data to identify high use areas and estimate the number of mature individuals using these areas. These areas were then compared against relevant KBA criteria thresholds determined by the KBA Standard to determine eligibility for recommendation as a KBA. During the workshop, we reviewed supporting data and sought intensive input on proposed KBAs. We further discussed potential overlap with existing classifications and protections in the Southern Ocean and the potential additional role of KBAs. In this report we summarize the work presented during the workshop and note that proposed potential KBA sites shown in this report will be refined further based on expert input. We share this preliminary and ongoing KBA work as an additional conservation tool for potential consideration in future Southern Ocean spatial management.
Dr Susie Grant
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