Arieanna Balbar

abalbar_websiteM.Sc. Candidate

Current research

My research focuses on assessing the use of ecological population connectivity in the design of networks of marine protected areas (MPA). I will determine the benefits and trade-offs, relative to other ecological criteria, associated with including population connectivity in the design of MPAs. Using a case study in coastal Nova Scotia, I will obtain quantitative measures of connectivity using multiple methods and proxies for ecologically important biogenic habitats. In comparing these methods, I will develop a framework for incorporating different estimates or measurements of connectivity in the design of MPAs based on data availability. I will also be working with designers of the spatial planning tool, Marxan, to expand the algorithm to include population connectivity.

This project 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
M.Sc. Candidate
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

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 2015

O.T.S. Jr. Founders Scholarship (Car Quest) – September 2012 – 2015

Undergraduate Entrance Scholarship (University of Guelph) – September 2012


Balbar, A. (2017). The use of population connectivity in the design of networks of Marine Protected Areas. (Poster presentation). Canadian Healthy Oceans Network (CHONe) Meeting. Gatineau, QC.

Balbar, A. (2017). Population connectivity in marine protected area (MPA) network design. Conference for Dalhousie Oceanography Graduate Students (CDOGS). Halifax, NS.

Balbar, A. (2017).  Measurement of connectivity in research and reserve design: An approach to determine practical management methods. CHONe/CPAWS Ecological Connectivity Workshop. Vancouver, BC.

Balbar, A. (2016). Population Connectivity in the design of MPA networks. Strategic Network Enhancement Initiative (SNEI) Indicators workshop. Montreal, QC.