Christopher Blackford, MSc Candidate

University of Toronto, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

I come from a terrestrial community ecology background and am diving head-first into the marine world! I am fascinated by how humans interact with their environment and can usually be found in my local environment biking, swimming, or hiking around Ontario’s parks. I also volunteer in the Royal Ontario Museum’s “Hands on Biodiversity” gallery.

Supervisor: Marie-Josée Fortin

Start to Finish: 09/2015 to 09/2020

CHONe Project: 1.1.1: Optimization of MPA selection based on spatial connectivity and on metapopulation and metacommunity dynamics

Project Title: Optimization of a Marine Protected Area network in the Canadian Pacific Ocean

Project Description:

Marine Protected Areas (MPA) are important conservation tools that have been shown to provide benefits including: restricting oil and gas drilling, sequestering carbon, and increasing stocks of both commercial and non-commercial fish species. The Canadian government has committed to establishing a network of Marine Protected Areas that will cover 10% of Canada’s oceans by 2020. It is important that Marine Protected Areas produce conservation benefits, given that biodiversity conservation was the motivation for creating the 10% MPA coverage target.

My project uses larval dispersal patterns to propose an optimal spatial network of Marine Protected Areas designed to protect multiple species with differing dispersal abilities to ensure a well-represented, connected MPA network.