Ocean Evidence Gap Map (2020-2021)


Evidence gap maps and syntheses are emerging tools within the conservation field. They are useful tools to creatively review existing scientific research in order to help guide evidence-based decision-making and identify areas where more targeted research is needed. Gap maps describe the distribution of studies that suggest linkages between particular interventions and outcomes, highlighting key evidence needs and areas where sufficient evidence could exist.

Evidence synthesis and reviews explore in depth the extent and nature of such linkages. In the rapidly developing field of ocean science and conservation, evidence gap maps and syntheses can provide informed and data-based direction for scientific, philanthropic and implementing organizations as they decide how to invest limited resources in particular programs and policy development and interventions.

Project Description

This project aims to use the ocean evidence maps produced by the past Bass Connections team to undertake in-depth literature reviews of the relationships between select conservation interventions and social-ecological outcomes. Team members will assess the efficiency of state-of-the-art technological approaches, such as machine learning, on improving systematic reviews and existing gap maps. They will develop an online interactive platform that will allow users to visualize and access data produced in the evidence maps and compiled libraries.

The goal of this year’s project is to conduct meta-analyses and detailed reviews based on the Ocean Evidence Gap Maps produced by the past team. The interdisciplinary analysis approach will evaluate what both natural and social science research reveals about the nature of linkages between interventions. The team will explore natural outcomes, such as fish abundance and ecosystem health, and social outcomes, such as income, well-being and degree of cooperative interactions, as well as the strength of the evidence supporting these linkages. Team members will also develop cost-effective approaches for updating evidence maps by using machine-learning tools.

Anticipated Outputs

Academic publications coauthored by students and faculty; interactive platform based on the Ocean Evidence Gap Maps; undergraduate honors theses; doctoral dissertation projects; research grant applications that address gaps in conservation science


Summer 2020 – Summer 2021

  • Summer 2020 (optional): Continue student-led reviews; develop website; develop experimental design for machine learning efficiency tests
  • Fall 2020: Attend weekly meetings; conduct in-depth literature review and meta-analyses; complete machine learning efficiency tests
  • Spring 2021: Attend weekly meetings; conduct in-depth literature review and meta-analyses
  • Summer 2021 (optional): Finalize output; submit manuscripts

See earlier related team, Ocean Evidence Gap Map and Synthesis (2019-2020).


Image: Large mangrove forest along Urauchi River in Iriomote Island of the Yaeyama Islands, Okinawa, Japan, by Anagounagi, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0


Team Leaders

  • Lisa Campbell, Nicholas School of the Environment-Marine Science and Conservation
  • David Gill, Nicholas School of the Environment-Marine Science and Conservation

/graduate Team Members

  • Dana Grieco, Marine Sci & Conservation-PHD
  • Rebecca Horan, Marine Sci & Conservation-PHD
  • Rafaella Lobo, Marine Sci & Conservation-PHD

/undergraduate Team Members

  • /undergraduate
  • /undergraduate

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Brian Silliman, Nicholas School of the Environment-Marine Science and Conservation

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Gabby Ahmadia, World Wildlife Fund-US
  • Samantha Cheng, Arizona State University