Ocean Evidence Gap Map and Synthesis (2019-2020)


Evidence gap maps and evidence synthesis are emerging as important conservation tools that review existing scientific research in a creative way. Gap maps identify studies that suggest linkages between particular interventions and outcomes, while evidence synthesis explores the extent and nature of such linkages.

In the rapidly developing field of ocean science and conservation, evidence gap maps and synthesis can provide informed and data-guided direction for scientific, philanthropic, government and nongovernment organizations as they decide how to invest limited resources.

Project Description

In 2018-2019, a Bass Connections project team completed a gap map – a matrix showing the intersection of conservation interventions with ecological and social outcomes, and the amount of papers that explore these intersections empirically. While this gap map provides an indication of well-studied and under-studied linkages, it does not describe the nature of the linkages (e.g., whether outcomes associated with an intervention are positive or negative or both), nor does it reveal anything about the strength of the evidence.

Building on this ocean evidence gap map, the 2019-2020 project team will synthesize and assess the strength and nature of evidence-related conservation interventions for coral reefs, mangroves and sea grasses.

To generate a more complete picture of the literature, the team will identify a number of “boxes” in the gap map’s intervention/outcome matrix on which to focus evidence synthesis efforts. Team members will then evaluate what natural and social science research reveals about the association between conservation efforts (e.g., habitat restoration), natural outcomes (e.g., fish abundance, ecosystem health and resilience) and social outcomes (e.g., income, well-being, degree of cooperative interactions). The goal will be to acquire a better understanding of both the positive and negative outcomes which interventions impact on people and the environment.

Anticipated Outputs

Manuscripts for publication; a web-based interactive platform of evidence synthesis linked to Ocean Evidence Gap; policy briefs; subprojects that may serve as the focus of undergraduate honors theses or the foundation for master’s theses and/or doctoral dissertations; preliminary data for targeted research grants; foundation for further work on more systematic reviews


Fall 2019 – Spring 2020

  • Fall 2019: Begin weekly meetings (alternating between full team and matrix working groups meetings); begin evidence synthesis; prepare and present progress reports
  • Spring 2020: Continue weekly meetings; complete evidence synthesis; integrate results into an interactive online platform; develop manuscripts for publication

Team Outputs to Date

Mapping the Impacts of Conservation Interventions (Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Virtual Showcase 2020)

Ocean Evidence Gap Map and Synthesis (poster)

This Team in the News

Meet the Winners of the 2020 Bass Connections Student Research Awards

See related teams, Ocean Evidence Gap Map (2020-2021) and Ocean Evidence Gap Map (2018-2019).


Image: Second Longest Coral Reef in the World, by Eustaquio Santimano, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Second Longest Coral Reef in the World.

Team Leaders

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

/graduate Team Members

  • Mary Edmondson, Master of Environmental Management, Coastal Environmental Management
  • Dana Grieco, Marine Sci & Conservation-PHD
  • Angela Hessenius, Master of Environmental Management, Environmental Economics/Policy
  • Rebecca Horan, Marine Sci & Conservation-PHD
  • Rafaella Lobo, Marine Sci & Conservation-PHD
  • Joanna Parkman, Master of Environmental Management, Coastal Environmental Management

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Anna He
  • Max Hofstetter
  • Grace Llewellyn

/zcommunity Team Members

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