COS 62-1 - Traditional ecological knowledge, shifting baselines, and conservation of Fijian molluscs

Tuesday, August 8, 2017: 1:30 PM
D129-130, Oregon Convention Center
Karen J. Bao and Joshua A. Drew, Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, Columbia University, New York, NY

Understanding a region’s ecological history is crucial in formulating conservation plans. In the absence of conventional datasets, historical data and traditional ecological knowledge of local communities can elucidate trends over time and help set goals for preservation and restoration. These methods can contribute to the conservation of biologically and culturally significant species, including coral reef molluscs, in the South Pacific, which have experienced intensified threats such as overfishing and habitat degradation in recent decades.


Through fisher interviews in a small coastal community in Fiji, we investigate changes in distribution, biomass, and human perception of common mollusc populations in a Fijian reef. We found evidence of a decline in mollusc populations, but only older fishers with more fishing experience perceived this decline, suggesting a shift in baseline perceptions of biodiversity.