My research focuses on evaluating the application of ecological connectivity in the design of marine protected areas. For my MSc, I assessed whether population connectivity was used as a guiding principle in the design and evaluation of MPAs and if so, what methods and metrics of connectivity were used by scientists and managers, I reviewed the scientific and management literature from 6 regions with advanced systematic conservation planning. Using the Eastern Shore Islands, Nova Scotia as a case study, I will calculate connectivity metrics using spatial distribution data and current data. I will derive and compare simple metrics of connectivity in kelp beds that are accessible to managers such as size using spatial distribution data and spacing using current data. This research aims to improve the quality of MPAs in Canada, especially as the 2020 deadline for the Aichi targets outlined Convention on Biological Diversity approaches.
I am also working on 2 collaborative projects: 1. To expand the spatial planning tool, Marxan, to include ecological connectivity data in its algorithm, and 2. To investigate the application of ecosystem connectivity in conservation.
This research is part of the Canadian Healthy Oceans Network (CHONe), supported by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). Evidence supporting the use of ecological criteria will aid in the shift towards selection of MPA networks in ecologically unique and productive areas (e.g. fisheries and coastal areas).
Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS
Department of Oceanography
September 2016 – present
University of Guelph, Guelph, ON
Department of Integrative Biology
B.Sc. Honours in Marine and Freshwater Biology, Minor in Mathematical Science
September 2012 – April 2016
Scholarships and Awards
- 3rd Prize – Best Oral presentation – World Conference on Marine Biodiversity (WCMB, 2018)
- Canadian Graduate Scholarship – Master’s Level (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council) – April 2017
- Graduate Entrance Scholarship (Dalhousie University) – June 2016
- Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship (Dalhousie University) – April 2016
- Gaskin Medal in Marine in Freshwater Biology (University of Guelph) – May 2016
- Keith Ronald Undergraduate Scholarship (University of Guelph) – November 2014, 2015
- Mary Beverley Burton Travel Scholarship (University of Guelph) – March 201
- O.T.S. Jr. Founders Scholarship (Car Quest) – September 2012 – 2015
Undergraduate Entrance Scholarship (University of Guelph) – September 2012
Balbar, A.C., and Metaxas, A. (under review) The current application of ecological connectivity in the design of marine protected areas, 38 pp (MSc work).
Daigle, R.M., Metaxas, A., Balbar, A. C., McGowan, J., Treml, E.A., Kuempel, C.D., Possingham, H.P., and Beger, M. (in prep.) Operationalizing ecological connectivity to identify spatial conservation priorities with Marxan Connect, 26 pp (MSc work).
Balbar, A.C.* 2018. Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia: Classification of benthic habitats – 2007. Invited oral presentation (Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, Eastern Shore Islands Area of Interest Ecological Overview).
Balbar, A.C.*, and Metaxas, A. 2018. The use of population connectivity in the design of networks of marine protected areas (MPAs). World Conference on Marine Biodiversity, Montreal, Canada: International (3rd prize, Best Student Oral Presentation)
Balbar, A.C.*, and Metaxas, A. 2018. The use of population connectivity in the design of networks of marine protected areas (MPAs). Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society Congress: National, Halifax, Canada.
Balbar, A.C.*, and Metaxas, A. 2017. The use of population connectivity in the design of networks of marine protected areas (MPAs). Poster presentation. Canadian Healthy Oceans Network meeting, Gatineau, QC.
Balbar, A.C.*, and Metaxas, A. 2017. Population connectivity in marine protected area (MPA) network design. Conference of Dalhousie Oceanography Graduate Students: Institutional (Best Master’s Oral Presentation)
Balbar, A. C*., and Metaxas, A. 2017. Measurement of connectivity in research and reserve design: An approach to determine practical management methods. CHONe/CPAWS Ecological Connectivity Workshop: National, Vancouver, BC.
Balbar, A.C.*, and Metaxas, A. 2016. Population Connectivity in the design of MPA networks. Strategic Network Enhancement Initiative (SNEI) Indicators workshop: National, Montreal, QC.
Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/arieanna-balbar/